Seven days. I've made it a full week since I last witnessed homophobia. Though, if you factor in the research necessary for this post, my brief reprieve from hate speech is more like seven minutes.
And for anyone else keeping tally on how many days, minutes, hours, they can go without being disappointed in their fellow man, I'm sorry, but this post is about to reset some counters.
When Michael Sam got drafted into the NFL and kissed his boyfriend on ESPN, my social media networks blew up. And I saw basically three kinds of responses. "Good for him." "How do I explain this to my children?" and "Why is this even news?"
My response was "Good for him". But I want to answer those two questions. Starting with the first one because it's the easiest.
How do I explain this to my children?
The existence of gay people is not sensitive information. It's not some horrible thing that must be hidden from the minds of innocent children. Some of those innocent children being protected by the heteronormative fantasy world their parents are trying to create are gay. Yep, that's where gay people come from. More often than not, from straight people. I, too, thought they grew out the gay cabbage patch, but nope, the majority of them have mommies and daddies who hopefully taught them acceptance and love.
In case it wasn't clear from all my snark. Assuming your kids are straight could be hurting them. And I think most parents want their kids to be healthy and happy. And there is nothing healthy about making kids think that they were made wrong, that no one else feels the way they do. So don't treat homosexuality as shameful. There is nothing shameful about being gay.
Why is this even news?
I'm sure most of the people who asked this question wouldn't consider themselves homophobic. They probably think they are the opposite of homophobic. They don't even see differences in people. They are above it all. Mhmmmm, sure. It's easy to ignore the things that don't affect you.
This one bothers me even more than the last one because it marginalizes the struggle and accomplishments of minorities. "Oh, a gay person getting into the NFL isn't a big deal." As if it were easy. Let's take a quick look at some of the tweets people posted when Sam got picked.
I am proud of who and what I am. My identities have made me strong. Made me see the world in unique and interesting ways. Nothing about me needs to be excused and it most certainly better not be ignored. And I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way.