On February 10th of this past year, I can remember reading an article on ESPN Boston that gave me pause. The subject: would Michael Sam (who just came out as the first openly gay football player entering the NFL draft) be a good fit for the New England Patriots? Reading it unfolded as I figured: yes, if he can help the team win. You know what I remember thinking as soon as I finished: “must be a slow news day if this is what they’re talking about.” But it wasn’t just an ESPN Boston article, it was all over the news. That night I heard it on the NewsHour (public broadcasting I consider to be more reputable than CNN or… you know, Fox). It astonished me that it was all television journalists would talk about. Thankfully most of the reaction was positive and supporting but I couldn’t help thinking: isn’t there something (a lot of things) more newsworthy?
Less than a week later, Ellen Page also came as gay. She revealed her truth in a very passionate and sincere speech. It was genuinely moving but again: I couldn’t believe how many people were talking about it. Her announcement did not generate the sensation that Michael Sam’s did (he is an historic first, after all) but still. People cared, like really cared (both supportive and inhuman). My thought was this: who cares who these people sleep with?
A lot of people do. That’s the sad fact. Whether abroad or at home, the issue of gay rights is still an intense battle. Should it be: f*ck no, there are actual problems out there BUT that doesn’t make it any less legitimate. Take the Olympics for example: we all know about Russia’s stance.
Personally I feel that the United States, Canada, and every other country claiming to be “first-world” should have abstained from attending. By sending our athletes, that was an endorsement, not just of the Olympics (which are very homoerotic when you consider the history: so add that irony) but of Russia (most importantly, their politics). But anyway, I’ll try to stick to my point and avoid ranting.
There is a real perverse fascination with people’s sex lives on this planet. Whether it’s in support or not: why do people care? Sex is an intensely personal act so unless the whole planet is having one global orgy, it’s not going to affect everyone. Yet this has been an issue throughout all of human history. First it was skin color and gender, now it’s sexual orientation. Humanity loves to look for stupid reasons to hate each other.
I don’t mean this article to belittle LGBT rights or pride in any way. Those organizations are needed and are a benefit for so many millions. I cannot praise enough the work that they do. However, I do look forward to the day where gay/bisexual/transgender pride is treated the same way as straight pride: no one cares.
There should never be pride or shame in being what you are. Black, white, gay, straight, brown-haired, blue-eyed, depressed, athletic: people are born with all sorts of traits. Some of them are currently societal advantages and some of them are legitimate gifts and handicaps (a person born with a strong heart as opposed to a person born with an anxiety disorder). The point is, regardless of type: those don’t matter. That’s what makes humanity great. We’re born being what we are; we decide who we are. Sometimes that decision isn’t great. I’m not going to say everyone is awesome because there have been (and still are) plenty of people who choose to hurt rather than to love, to be angry instead of forgiving, to be prejudiced instead of understanding. Those are defects worth getting emotional about, because those are the ultimately the responsibility of the individual.
I’m far from preaching all out love. Again, people should be held responsible for the poor decisions they make and unconditional love in the face of repeated abuse is certainly an unhealthy thing. As I said before, I’m aware that the world is not ready for LGBT pride to be irrelevant, I just hope one day that it can be (that sounds odd to say). Both Michael Sam and Ellen Page are role models and incredibly brave for what they CHOSE to do. Fifty years from now though, I would love it if the reaction I opened the article with was the norm: “someone’s talking about their sexuality? Must be a slow news day”.