It was the kiss seen around the world. In days past, Michael Sam and his partner have been the hot button topic everyone has been talking about. They have been praised by many and dehumanized by some. The rampant homophobia and racism that can be found across the internet doesn't surprise me. It is the internet after all. However, I was surprised when I saw an article shared by a political science teacher from my alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University. It is an article written by Matt Walsh entitled "This Is My Homophobic Rant Against Michael Sam." In this article, Walsh claims that the statements he is making about Michael Sam are actually not homophobic. Walsh's main thesis is that Michael Sam coming out in a hyper-masculine and hyper-heterosexual industry is not bravery.
My first few thoughts when seeing this article was "Doesn't this teacher know she teaches queer students?" and "Why do straight, white people feel the need to interject their privileged voices in something they know nothing about?" It is easy for those straight white people to hark back to the days of the Civil Rights movement and call those Black people that faced blatant and overt racism brave. At the same time, they completely dismiss and ignore the struggles of queer people of color today.
They completely dismiss reports that show that of all anti-LGBT homicide victims 73 percent were people of color. They completely ignore the fact that 53 percent of anti-LGBT homicides were transgender women. In respect to suicide The Trevor Project states, "LGB youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their straight peers, and suicide attempts are nearly two times higher among Black and Hispanic youth than white youth." Those LGB youth that are rejected from their families are about eight times more likely to attempt suicide compared to LGB youth that have no or little family rejection.
These numbers alone should show how brave Michael Sam is. LGBT people get the memo every day. LGBT people understand the risks of standing out. They understand the dangers that come with speaking their truth. These are dangers that straight, white folks don't understand and likely never will. To interject a white, straight "voice of reason" completely overshadows the voices of the oppressed. To suggest that individuals should not celebrate Michael Sam as brave ignores the statistics stated above and the continued struggle of queer people in America today. It is not queer people that made being queer political or sensational. That was done by years of discrimination and dehumanization by straight American society. Michael Sam and individuals like him are a breakaway from America's tradition of discriminating based on sexual orientation and race.
Sam reminds those individuals that hold on to that nasty tradition of homophobia and racism that their time is almost up. The actions that Sam and people like him take gives hope to those oppressed individuals that are willing and ready to make their mark. Michael Sam is that breakaway guy that the NFL needs to move itself into the 21st century. As for the rest of society, any minority group that dares to defy the hegemonic ruling class of discrimination is brave.