Real Positive Change Takes Time

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.

Young and Sportastic – Visibility in the LGBT* Community

Honestly my first temptation was to rant about the lack of LGBT* representation in the State of the Union last Tuesday, but as I promised my girlfriend and my readers  last week , I won’t turn my blog into a rant fest. (Though I really want to… all I wanted was ONE ENDA mention…)

…Anyway, I want to focus on the increase of youth representation and LGBT* visibility. Many of the kids /young adults that are coming out are active in sports culture, and that’s fantastic. Between Olympians worldwide, and people like Conner Merterns in Oregon, many current players are at the forefront of the LGBT* movement. I can’t speak for the sports culture outside of the United States, but here in the USA the culture surrounding athletics could easily be compared to religious ideology.

The You Can Play project is an example of the decrease of homophobia in sports (even if it’s slow). I love that people are challenging what it means to be strong, and that LGBT* individuals can challenge current perceptions. But gay athletes in the Olympics, college sports, and major sports teams prove that being queer does not fit into a nice hetero-normative picture.

Queer kids can play hockey, football, baseball, or soccer. Go for the Gold (I mean just getting to the Olympics sounds pretty rad).

The thing that I think is the most important about this trend in sports is the spirit of athleticism. Pride in teamwork, hard work, perseverance, etc. are all lauded in American society. The LGBT* community are of course capable of expressing these virtues already, but having kids be able to see these virtues openly expressed in people like themselves is powerful.

Telling kids not only does it get better, but they are amazing, unique and strong in their own way is quintessential. Recognizing your own personal strength is one of the first steps into empowering yourself and making the world a more positive and better place. With more visibility in sports, it’s becoming more of reality for queer kids.

Visibility matters. We’re here, we’re queer, and we can be whatever we want to be.

Why Visibility Matters: Why Robin Roberts is Awesome and A+E Sucks

I hate entertainment news.

A lot.

I don’t care about 99% of the dribble that the American (meaning USA) media passes off as something I need to know or care about. See: Duck Dynasty.

I just don’t care. I mean I care that some ass-hat is getting paid by an hypocritical TV company. Maybe saying that I’m not surprised is more accurate than not caring. Homophobic douche-nozzles are a dime a dozen, and TV channels who talk out of both sides of their mouth are the same.

Which is why I thinking that people coming out should still be news. Robin Roberts coming out this past weekend was extremely important. There is a case for wanting coming out to be “non-news”. And I agree with that, if we didn’t live in a world with Phil Robertsons and companies wanting to profit off of them. Don Lemon stated in perfectly:

Lemon said he was “afraid of people like Phil Robertson who claim to love everyone while simultaneously thinking that everyone’s love is unequal.” Lemon expressed hope that in Roberts’ case, “empowerment will quickly replace fear,” and concluded that if people like Robertson have their rights and those rights should be celebrated, then openly gay anchors like Lemon and Roberts “should be celebrated as well,” and “that’s why it’s still important to come out and say, very simply, ‘I’m gay.’”

We still live in a society where companies and organizations preach tolerance while benefiting off of known bigots.  We still live in a world where LGBT* people are the punchline. In most parts of the world, it’s not safe to be out of the closet. Until people stop getting discriminated against or killed on an institutional level, we need nigh profile individuals to announce their queerness to the world.

Visibility is important. especially in news casting, especially with a show that millions of people watch. We need more Robin Roberts.

I am aware that talking about visibility makes me a hypocrite. I don’t feel comfortable outing myself on this site. I hope to, some day, stand up and be who I am openly and honestly – and do the work that I love. Until then, I look to people like Robin Roberts, Don Lemon, and Billie Jean King for inspiration.

With them, I can see a world where I can be gay and a humanitarian without fear or consequence.