How Big a Deal Is the Prospect of an Openly Gay NFL Player?

What we really can't predict is whether stupid homoerotic references to "tight ends" will increase or decrease.Is America ready for an openly
gay NFL player?

of course
. That’s kind of a silly question if you think about
it in terms of how the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” played

Did you forget about that? So did everybody else. Despite the
fear-mongering that it would affect morale, there seems to have
little actual impact
in allowing gay men and women serving
openly in the military.

I noted in my end-of-year review about how
amazingly gay I found the year 2013
that pretty much the last
threshold for cultural gay tolerance to be hammered out in the
United States was in professional sports. Though there are openly
gay male athletes in the less prominent professional sports like
soccer and boxing, we still do not have an openly gay male athletes
currently competing in professional baseball, basketball or

Then this weekend, Michael Sam, a top lineman from the
University of Missouri,
came out of the closet
(to the media – this teammates already
knew). It matters because he’s apparently a good enough player to
make the transition to the NFL. If he’s drafted in May, he would
become the first openly gay actively competing football player.
That’s assuming no existing players come out of the closet in the

That the media is
such a
big deal
out of
may seem a little strange, particularly to those who are
and have always been down with the gay folks. It’s helpful to
consider the idea that we’re writing the last chapter in a very
lengthy book of American history. The advancement and acceptance of
an openly gay male pro athlete (sorry pioneering ladies – we know
you were first) is the final stage of cultural acceptance of gay
people living openly and happily without having to hide who they
are. The Onion, in their usual fashion, made a
out of it in August that’s funny but insightful: “Area
Teen Quickly Running Out Of Chances To Be First Openly Gay

Obviously, there are still so many more conflicts and debates
about how gay people are treated by the law and what “rights” apply
(scare quotes due to the fundamental cultural disagreement about
what even constitutes a right). Today gay couples
filed suit
in Ohio to force the state to recognize their
marriages, a battle being replicated in several states right

And though homophobia may be on the decline, it’s naïve to think
it’s going to fade into nothingness. Racism and sexism still exist.
There’s always some sort of justification for believing some humans
should be treated as lesser to others for reasons that should have
no actual bearing.  

But all eyes are on Sam because this is the final doorway in
America for cultural acceptance. It marks the end of certain silly
ideas about how masculinity informs sexuality that have had lasting
impacts on the psyches of straights and gays alike for decades.
It’s a huge deal, though the impact may not be fully grasped except
in retrospect years from now.

from Hit & Run

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