Standing Up Alone > Sitting Down in Company

Texan news reporter Dale Hansen made a bold decision to defend gay rights on national television, putting himself out there while fully aware of possible destructive repercussions to his actions. His discourse was in response to the negative backlash football star Michael Sam has received by admitting to being gay. Michael, a talented young man who would be a strong asset to any team in the league, will be the first openly gay man to play in the NFL. Before publicly announcing his sexual identity, he was pegged to be chosen in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft. However, he is now expected to go in the fifth round – for a player of his skill level and stature.. shocking how quickly things have changed, no?

“A gay player would not be welcome in a NFL locker room; it would be uncomfortable because that’s a man’s world.”

Seeing as this has caused such uproar, let’s look to some who are currently representing their nation by playing in the league. Men who have been involved in domestic violence, murder, drunk driving, illegal drugs, prostitution, rape, and obstruction of justice are ‘welcome’ in the league, yet Michael Sam is being scrutinized? As Dale Hansen says, these men are WANTED in the league – they are accepted and are looked up to by many. So I ask, what is wrong with this picture? I do not understand how one can honestly believe being gay is WORSE than committing horrendous crimes – I am at a loss for words.

“You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far.”

Ellen DeGeneres was inspired by Dale’s willingness to speak out and invited him to be a guest on her show to further spread his striking message to the public. Experiencing similar public backlash when sharing her sexual identity with her fans, she knows the importance of advocating for equal rights. Together they agree on one common objective – you do not need to be LGBTQ to advocate for equal rights, advocating is advocating. Either way, the message is powerful. It is also not expected for you to understand and feel comfortable with other’s identities that differ from your own – you do not live their life, however, they are a PART of your life. That being said, love and respect are reciprocal notions – you cannot expect to receive it, if you are not willing to give it!

Although our society has evolved over time – and some may argue we have made great progress – heterosexual relationships are still viewed to be the norm and ‘that’s just the way it is’. I find it extremely difficult to understand and refuse to accept the high value placed on success in our society, where this success is only attainable to those who fit the norm. Why should someone’s success be hindered based on their identity? Like Dale, I would like to believe there will be a day where differences will be celebrated, not segregated – success will not be determined by superficial perceptions of identity. However, I think our society has a long way to go to get there… We need to stop sitting down, ignoring the discrimination around us, and stand up – what are we waiting for?

“It is not our differences that divide us; it is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.” – Audre Lorde

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