Everyone in sports and LGBT* community is talking about Michael Sam getting drafted by the Rams and that his jersey is selling like hotcakes. While obviously excitement has been expressed by the LGBT* community, it is also very easy to lament over the fact that the first openly gay play drafted to the NFL wasn’t an all-star quarterback or wide receiver. Why couldn’t the LGBT* community bust down the door instead of having in gently pushed open by a seventh round draft pick?
I am not diminishing Sam’s achievements. He has obviously worked very hard to be where he is now, and the fact that ESPN aired a gay kiss on TV definitely made a big splash in the sports world.
The reason we don’t have an openly queer quarterback is the same reason we haven’t an openly queer president. Lasting positive change takes time and moves very slowly. Saying that lasting change takes time does not mean that I am satisfied for slow progress, but in order for the LGBT* community to bust down doors, we need people like Michael Sam. When Harvey Milk won in 1977 no one had dreamed of an openly gay politician. Now we have out Senators and Congress-people who stand up for LGBT* individuals across the United States.
Again, we should not be satisfied with slow-moving change; we should always try to aim higher and better. A quick flash in the pan is satisfying initially, but after a short period of time it can very easily lose impact. Unfortunately people need to see something over and over again until it becomes accepted and normalized.
Fast change looks nice, but what about the substance? What happens after the first openly gay quarterback gets drafted or the first out president gets elected? There is something to be said about reaching to the top, but more importantly lasting change comes from the hard work that continues after reaching the mountain peak. What is a queer president or quarterback going to do to continue to advance the LGBT* movement?
In a perfect world we wouldn’t need to kick the door down or LGBT* rights.
I don’t need to tell you that we don’t live in a perfect world. So we keep trudging forward, relishing in the small victories, but never accepting them as the permanent status-quo.