Of Fathers, Sons, and Being Gay

If you follow football news, or just as likely if you do not, you probably know that a much touted Michael Sam, who played football at the University of Missouri, has announced that he is gay ahead of the NFL May draft process. To put it mildly, it has sports announcers and writers literally jumping up and down. It has caused a buzz on all (I don’t watch Fox) the mainstream news shows.

There seems to be no end to the interviews of former NFL players who have come out [after their playing careers] in support of Sam. A number of current players in the NFL have voiced their support for him. Everyone talking about this young man’s courage. Sam is quoted as saying, “I just wanted to own my own truth.” In other words, I am not going to hide who I am while playing at the next level. Courage is a mild word for what he has chosen to do because it may well effect his value in the meat market place of the machismo dominated National Football League.

But you can read that elsewhere. What I want to say here is something more personal about this coming out party for this young man. Anyone who makes this type of major decision where he knows full well it is going to be controversial needs to know he has support from his friends and family. Someone who has his back regardless of the outcome. When Sam’s father learned from him that he was gay he told the New York Times, “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks.  I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.  I’m old school. I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.”

I am not sure exactly what it was that hit me wrong. Maybe it was just that he felt he had to express it publicly to the world. Maybe I felt that he felt that he was somehow defending himself. I am just not sure but it screamed “wrong.” I have a son and a daughter and if either of them made that declaration my first thought would not be to go have a drink, unless everyone was going. My first thoughts would be: are you okay? Are you happy? My first thoughts would be and always will be for the well being of my children.

I’m not saying that it wouldn’t catch me off guard, but never would I be less than proud of either of my children. Perhaps we do not always agree on everything, and we do not, but under all circumstances I am there for them. Even if that had been my son and I disapproved, it would be between he and I, not the rest of the world. The bond between a father and his children is something that is sacred in my eyes, even when the child is wrong. The father stands with his child through thick and thin.

As some might think, there are children who do things so horrible they are not worth caring about. I disagree. I remember an interview with Jeffery Dahmer with his father present. As Dahmer answered questions his father did not deny his son or his love for him but, like everyone else, wanted to know why his son did what he did. Dahmer himself volunteered for any experiments to understand what caused him to commit such horrible crimes.

Michael Sam’s father may still care about his son, but to me he betrayed that special bond by publicly denouncing him. I hope for the sake of both that one day they can reconcile as this has nothing to do with football and everything to do with the real life story of two men.

Thanks to the New York Times for story contributions.

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Posted by on February 13, 2014. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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3 Responses to Of Fathers, Sons, and Being Gay

  1. Jess

    February 13, 2014 at 11:14 am

    The best thing I saw about all of this was a Dallas dude talking about how you can be (insert whatever horrid thing here) and the NFL will take you but say you are gay and all bets are off. My best friend of many, many years is a gay man and he came out to my rental units first, so he could get his speech right on for his own. He never needed to because they always knew and they love him no matter what, well except when he and I used to get in trouble, they didn’t like the two of us. I did come out as straight to them which was the funny thing my friend said, please do this with me so I don’t act the fool. I’ll never understand how one day you love your kid, then they say or do something and all of a sudden they are different. They are still the same kid you raised, loved and nothing has changed. I am of the hope that there will be one day, probably far into the future that all this coming out shit will be just that, shit that does not matter. You will be accepted for who you are by everyone, including those who raised you.

  2. Bill Formby

    February 13, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I hope you are right Jess. I also heard the Dallas sport caster comments about this and his comments were far more eloquent and to the point than mine.

    • Jess

      February 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm

      It will, look how little time has passed as far as people being okay with marriage equality because they have no choice. Of course, there will still be the fringe idiots out there, like we still have racists among us, but they will the minority.