This morning I decided to pick up a Red Eye. The Red Eye is a free news publication that is published by the Chicago Tribune. It consist of some news, sports and entertainment. I typically pick it up just to read the back page which has snippets of entertainment news…okay gossip. This morning (Wednesday, May 21st) there was an article on page 3 about Michael Sam written by Nikki Lynette. Nikki starts the article referencing a conversation she had after showing relatives a copy of the infamous kiss. She received responses that she never expected. Her relative’s remarks were jarring but not surprising (e.g. Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve). Nikki was surprised at the comments for she considers herself liberal with a “to each his own attitude”. In my head I am thinking nice article and how I looked forward to continuing to read because as a SGL (same gender loving) man I love to see my heterosexual allies. This reminds me that not all heterosexuals are Neanderthals.
Well as I got to the third paragraph I could hear the tires on the car of progress in my head come to a screeching halt. You see Nikki begins to state how she is glad that the OWN Network has postponed the Michael Sam reality show. She states that such a program would just be another example of someone being “singled out” for being gay. With her being a woman of African heritage making such a statement disappointed me. For I thought, she just does not get it. With that statement you are saying that this part of who he is should not be highlighted or acknowledged. He made a bold stance, one that very few have done and while he is a great football player he is also a black SGL man. He was telling the world accept all of me. Not an easy task for anyone who is SGL and especially a black man.
I was disappointed with this statement because I wonder would she write this exact same article when Dr. Clifton Wharton, Jr. became the first black CEO of a fortune 500 company (TIAA-CREF) or when Ursula Burns became the first black woman of a fortune 500 company (Xerox Corporation). Would she say that they were being singled out for their race or gender? Slavery was officially abolished 150 years ago in this country and African Americans and women are still being touted as “the first”. It is a big deal because coming out to the world is a bold statement and one that can be very costly as a SGL individual. A price that can be deadly. It would be nice to live in a country where being the first black SGL person, or the first black man or woman in any category would not be a big deal. However, that is not the world we live in by any means. Michael taking that step has given license to so many others that are nameless and faceless to live their lives in an authentic manner. What pains me is that Nikki as a “liberal” black woman in this country does not see that or have had that explained to her. While her overall article was supportive of me and my SGL brothers and sisters I want her to know that we are tired of being told “what is the big deal” when we are not the ones that have been doing the ostracizing. It would not be such a phenomenon if acceptance was a rule of the day. However, it is that is not the case for SGL individuals, women, people of color, etc. And until it becomes what the world considers a normal occurrence we will not make a "a big deal" out of it.
Living in one's truth out loud and authentically in a world that chooses to devalue and mock your very existence IS A BIG DEAL!!!