Michael Sam Will Be OK, and I’m a Bit Jealous

The sky didn't fall and the oceans didn't boil when an out player headed to the NFL — but when will trans people get the acceptance gays have gained?

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Courtesy Fallon Fox

There has been no fire raining down from the heavens in Missouri lately. No earthquakes or major floods either. As a matter of fact, there hasn’t even been a  whisper of anyone complaining about a plague originating out of the Show Me state. Lightning bolts from clear blue sky should have ripped through cars wiping out unsuspecting families who made the mistake of moving to that unclean state. But, none of this has happened. This has me a little perplexed. Because, I could have sworn that some sort of major catastrophe should have taken place in Missouri these past few years.

You see, just in case you haven’t heard, there’s this gay guy who played football for Mizzou. This guy had the audacity to tell his teammates, friends, family, and most of the people he was around that he was very happily into men. Those people that he told overwhelmingly turned a cold shoulder to the wrath from on high. They listened to what this man had to say about who he was, saw he was a really respectable fellow, found him guilty of no crimes against humanity, and accepted him. They even let him continue playing football.

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What’s missing here? I’ve been searching the internet for hours researching this guy, and I haven’t found one instance of him grabbing another guy in the shower after training and raping him. No photos of any of his teammates sitting on benches with tears flowing down their faces as they exclaim how they just can’t take it anymore. I haven’t seen anything about the Mizzou football team falling apart during plays because of this man. As a matter of fact, I see the opposite happening. Much to my amazement, I’m seeing total domination from Mizzou. And at the forefront of this hard hitting football team I’m seeing an openly gay man. What’s making matters even more complicated is that his teammates, friends, and Mizzou fans are standing with him in photos with obvious expressions of support. What gives?

And it’s not just happening in Missouri. Oh no sir! It’s happening all over the United States. Most people are acting like the sky is not about to fall out of the heavens. They are acting like it’s no big deal. The paper is read, the news segment is watched, the article is clicked on, and overwhelmingly Americans are saying, “Good for you, Michael Sam!” They have love for this guy. It’s almost as if they were waiting for this to happen — as if seeing him play and succeed is valuable to them. I’ve only seen a few people gripe about Michael. But, they are mostly religious, right-wing diehards whose voices have been beaten back into the fringe, or anonymous emails from a few individuals inside NFL who are too frightened to show their faces. Yes, it looks like the opposition to gays in sports is taking a spanking almost as much as homophobia is everywhere else.

Sarcasm aside, I salute Michael Sam, like most Americans. I’m extremely happy that he is receiving support from so many different angles. I’m even more excited about his future in the NFL — and unless he snaps his knee caps clean off he will have one.

At the same time, however, I am just a tad envious. I’ve experienced some of the same acceptance with teammates and friends as Michael has, and I have a community in my home state that supports me. When you are LGBT, it’s quite common to be accepted by those close to you — after they have known you for a while. As time passes, they find out you are not a threat. But, unfortunately trans acceptance is 10 to 15 years behind gay acceptance in the American psyche. Maybe, in a few years people will stop listening to the Chicken Littles of this planet and finally show trans athletes the same type of love and respect Michael is getting. Perhaps I’ll be standing side-by-side with some future trans MMA fighter talking about how bad we had it in the old days. My belief is that will happen. This nation’s history points to it. Michael Sam points to it.

Fallon Fox is a mixed martial arts fighter.