Future of LGBTQ athletes looks bright

By Manny Miguel

 

Earlier this month 24-year-old University of Missouri football athlete Michael Sam made history by coming out publicly as being gay.

He broke many barriers that no one would have thought would be broken, and he did it in a sport that is dominated by machismo.

Sam made his historic announcement on ESPN’s Outside the Line with Chris Connelly. “I’m not afraid to tell the world of who I am. I’m Michael Sam. I’m a college graduate. I’m African-American, and I’m gay.”

It took a lot of courage to do what he did, and should be applauded for his actions. His timing could turn out to be good or bad depending how his football career shapes out.

Nonetheless Sam was the best person to do what he did, and will help out younger athletes deal with the similar things he has gone through, because he came out before the NFL draft and did so in a sincere manner.

He was projected to be a third or fourth round draft pick, but since coming out his stock has dropped.

Many sport analysis say teams may be reluctant to draft Sam because he may be a distraction to the team, or may not be a good fit.

Adriann Crespo, 19, East Los Angeles College track and field athlete and  openly gay said that gay athletes go through many struggles with being true to themselves.

During her freshman year in high school, she used to play for an independent soccer league where she would be discriminated against by both her teammates and coaches.

“During practices my teammates would throw elbows at me, and coaches wouldn’t do anything about it. I would come home with black eyes and bruised lips on the daily basis” said Crespo.

She left soccer and joined track and field, she said that her teammates here at ELAC are like family to her.

ELAC’s football head coach Steve Mojarro said that Sam “represents college football to the fullest”.

“Sam will get us to the 21st century. I mean we now have a black president, something we thought would never have happened. Now we will have a gay professional athlete,” Mojarro said.

Mojarro said that Sam chose to come out at the perfect time, because now teams will know what they are dealing with instead of maybe cutting him for other reasons.

Which brings to attention the whole bullying issues between offensive linemen Johnathan Martin and Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins.

Maybe once Sam makes the team he will have to deal with some bullying, and it will shape how gay athletes will be treated at the professional level.

If certain standards are put in place that show that there is no tolerance for discrimination of any kind at the professional level, it will help shape out how sports at the lower levels will be run.

The gay community have made strides to be accepted in sports, because many gay athletes have come out over the last few years who are still playing in their respective sports.

Rin Khala, Ph.D., a sociologist instructor at ELAC said that “gay athletes are the last major group to go through discrimination.”

Midfielder, Robbie Rogers came out last year when he played for Leeds United, a second division soccer club in England.

Rogers briefly retired because he said he did not want to deal with the media, but came out of retirement to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy of the Major League Soccer.

Jason Collins who while playing for the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball League came out in 2013. On sunday he made history by singing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. He went on to play that same night, becoming the first gay athlete in the NBA.

Also last year the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame was established.

A lot more steps lie ahead for gay athletes to be fully accepted, but Sam’s actions are a stepping stone for future gay athletes.

 

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