In the midst of every single news channel reporting on the recent coming out of the Mizzou football player, Michael Sam, there was much speculation on exactly who his boyfriend could be or who he has dated in the past. As everyone began to get wind of the top story, social media sites were obviously starting to buzz with rumors dealing with just about every aspect of his private life.
Well, with Instagram being one the most popular social media apps ever, it made perfect sense for everyone to head right to his profile and find the first picture of him with a man that appeared to be gay. That picture, with the gay man, is a picture of me and Michael sitting in a night club in Columbia, Missouri. The caption says nothing about us dating or about there being any sort of romantic relations between the two of us. Oh, and by the way, we do not date. But what does that matter to everyone else?
The comments began to roll in, as do the countless stories on television and on many different blogs. Everyone wants to know if I am his boyfriend and if we are dating. Well the picture states that it was posted more than 22 weeks prior to Michael coming out to the rest of the country, but that didn’t really matter to the users of Instagram and Twitter as well. They tagged me from the start and the ball began to roll.
About two days after the initial stories of him coming out began to die down, the new story was the fact that they had FOUND his “alleged” boyfriend. Media Takeout being the main culprit, decided to go to my profile on Instagram and take a few photos of me that they must have found to be flattering. Two pictures of me and Michael sitting together, one fitness result photo of me in a towel, and the other picture of me taking a goofy “selfie”. Granted, they did not post my username or anything like that onto the actual blog site, it was still pretty shocking to receive multiple texts, calls, emails, and private messages from people all over that were reading this story.
The simple fact that I was tagged as his boyfriend was not the most irritating aspect of this whole thing, but more so the comments from fellow members of the gay community and members of the black community as well. The headline read, “Meet the WHITE dude he’s been quarterback sacking for the past few months”. Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that MTO was well aware of my so-called sexual encounters. Once again, this all stemmed from a very simple picture on Michael’s personal page.
Now, getting back to the comments from different viewers. People were OUTRAGED at the fact that Michael Sam, being black, would even be interested in a white partner. Regardless of the fact that he’s gay, that issue has now seemed to go out of the window. Comments such as, “I am tired and fed up with the black community,” and “this is a disgrace to blacks everywhere.”
Now look, I consider myself to be extremely open when it comes to diversity and celebrating differences. I was absolutely disgusted by the comments from FELLOW members of the gay community the most. I understand cultural and social studies in regards to gay men, and gay black men at that. It is very hard for them to come out in the open about their sexuality, let alone them being an athlete as well.
Members of any cultural or social group that have been oppressed for a very long time only seem to continue in the ongoing circle of oppression. It is absolutely sad to me to witness those around me put other people down and discriminate against others in their same social group. The same ones that complain that their rights are not equal and that they have to deal with hate and discrimination continue to throw the shade in other’s faces. It’s simply despicable.
I have learned many different lessons from this experience and from this media spectacle. In all honesty, I have been around issues like this my whole life, and I am sure they will continue to roll around every so often. I have very big dreams and aspirations of my own and if they are to come true, I would most likely deal with this type of hatred and media exploitation on a daily basis. Ultimately, this whole experience just goes to show JUST how much this country has not grown, in my opinion. We continue to make great strides, but if we do not stick together as human beings and move past our own hatred, we will remain at a standstill in the fight for equality.