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As much as I hate to post on a topic that's been talked to death...there's one aspect that I have not seen addressed as I feel it needs to be.

As you almost certainly know, openly gay football player Michael Sam was recently drafted into the NFL. On hearing the good news, he engaged in one of the most non-controversial things a man can do: he shared a celebratory kiss with his significant other. Except, of course, Michael Sam is gay, so, you know, controversy. The predictable hate ensued. Satire site freewoodpost picked up on the hypocrisy: it's only "flaunting" your sexuality when you're gay. It's only forcing people to consider your bedroom life when you're gay. It's only injecting sexuality into the discussion when you're gay. Which is to say, it isn't at all, and it's only seen that way through the prism of extreme homophobia: what I do is "normal", but when you do it I'm uncomfortable. So, for the love of humanity, stop it you pervert!

As I say, though, this point has been addressed rather well by many before me. It's the Sam/Tebow comparison that I feel shouldn't pass by without a response.

A few examples (gleaned from supportive conservative media, no less):

So let's start with the obvious. Sam isn't being "praised" for being gay. Sam is being praised for having the courage to be openly gay in a field that is historically, shall we say, not welcoming to gay players. Of the three tweets above, only one person comes near the truth: it's not that people are celebrating that he is gay, but that he is brave enough not to hide that -- and that he is not excluded from participation because of his sexual orientation. Because of the historically homophobic locker room environment, this is big news; it's a sign of significant progress, evidence that barriers -- the like of which Tebow never had to face -- might have come down, a little at least. Not because Michael Sam loves another man.

And, just as -- perhaps more -- importantly, Tim Tebow wasn't mocked for being a Christian. Tebow was hardly the only Christian in the NFL, and -- unlike its cultural attitudes toward gay players -- there is no particular hostility toward religious players. It wasn't that Tebow was religious that bothered people. It was Tebow's particular brand of religiosity: the showy evangelizing, the constant effort to prove that he was the Christianiest of the Christians. Tebow made a show of his Christianity, from the pious on-field prayers to the painted-on-his-face verses; and it was a show people didn't find compelling. No one begrudged him his faith; but the showiness of his evangelizing is the sort of thing that does rub some people the wrong way. In fact, I seem to remember someone rather famous complaining about that exact type of religiosity. Now who was that...?

Matthew 6.1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners [d]so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Oh yes, I believe that was Jesus. Turns out the "Christ" in "Christ"ianity wasn't a big fan of Tebow's brand of religious promotion either. And Jesus, as god characters go, was a pretty cool dude. So maybe "#society" isn't doing so bad after all, if it views those who "love to stand and pray" "before men to be noticed by them" with disdain. Or maybe Jesus didn't know jack, and we're all doomed because, you know, people rolled their eyes at Tebowing.

At any rate, what it gets down to is this: there is a distinct difference between sharing a celebratory kiss during a special moment with a significant other, and Tebowing. Now, if Michael Sam somehow manages to turn every appearance on the field into a demonstration or endorsement of his sexuality, yeah, they'll be similar. But nothing of the sort has happened (or is even likely possible).
Where conservatives seem to be missing the point is that they are confusing their discomfort with a celebratory kiss between men with constant promotion of a thing. Yes, you might love Christianity; and yes, you might hate The Gayz. But Michael Sam being gay (including having a boyfriend) is just him being gay; Tebow being Christian (including praying, attending church, etc.), is just him being Christian (like all the other Christian players who are not "persecuted" for their beliefs). Tebow made a (decidedly non-Biblical) choice to, shall we say, celebrate his belief in a fashion that came off as smug and holier-than-thou to many people -- not because he acknowledged that he was a Christian or lived as a Christian, but because he turned the sport into a venue for promotion of that belief, for evangelizing. Sam has done no such thing. He simply exists as a gay man.

Existing as a gay man, including having a family, is not "evangelizing" for homosexuality. It's just existing. And being uncomfortable at the sight of gay men existing is not evidence that homosexuality is being "forced" on you. It's evidence that you have issues you need to work through.

Originally posted at Rachel's Hobbit Hole.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I haven't had a chance to say this (8+ / 0-)

    but I will.

    In 1946 the Brooklyn Dodgers signed their first black ballplayer, Jackie Robinson, and sent him off to Montreal to play in the minors.  It was big news.

    In 1947 the Brooklyn Dodgers promoted Robinson to the majors.  It was big news.

    In 2014, MLB and the NFL and the NBA and the NHL (well, less so the NHL) sign black players all the time, and players of other skin hues all the time, and it is not news.

    This shouldn't be either.  This should also be boring non-news.

    "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

    by Navy Vet Terp on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:10:04 PM PDT

    •  And it will be non-news, eventually. (8+ / 0-)

      But the first time? It is big news.

      The number on my soccer shirt is 42. I'm delighted that I can pay tribute to Jackie Robinson and Douglas Adams at the same time.

      This is not a sig-line.

      by Joffan on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:18:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Shouldn't be (5+ / 0-)

      but it is.  Maybe in a generation or two it won't be as much, but as James Byrd, Jr. would tell you today if he only could, three generations after Jackie Robinson, and racial hatred is alive and well . . . so no doubt homophobia will be too.

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:19:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, with NHL it's less discrimination (4+ / 0-)

      than opportunity -- hockey may be one of the more expensive sports out there (ice time for practice, skates, sticks, etc.) and there aren't that many opportunities at least here in the States. There've still been a decent number of black players over the years.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:36:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  re: the NHL & black players (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joffan, Navy Vet Terp

        nationalities of NHL players, 2013-14 season:

        Canada 51.8%
        USA 24.6%
        Sweden 7.8%
        Czech Republic 3.8%
        Russia 3.5%
        Finland 3.3%
        Slovakia 1.4%
        Switzerland 1.1%


        Not a lot of black citizens in those non-USA countries to begin with. And American players tend to come from places like Minnesota.

        You WANT me on that server! You NEED me on that server!

        by nota bene on Wed May 14, 2014 at 04:53:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Fun fact: One of the earliest organized hockey (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joffan, Navy Vet Terp

        leagues was the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes. The league is credited by some with changing the entire character of the game, from a relatively peaceable, if not exactly sedate, enterprise to the fast-paced aggressive game that became what we now know.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Wed May 14, 2014 at 07:28:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'd say Tebow did quite well (9+ / 0-)

    with no evidence of having been discriminated against. He won the Heisman trophy. He was a NFL first round draft pick. Unfortunately, his evangelizing was better than his football skills and went through three teams (Broncos, Jets, Patriots) before going to work for ESPN.

    Sam will be judged the same way. He will play well or he won't. And, most will judge him that way and no other. After being a last round pick, Sam can only go up from there.

    KOS: "Mocking partisans focusing on elections? Even less reason to be on Daily Kos."

    by fcvaguy on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:27:15 PM PDT

  •  The haters say (9+ / 0-)

    "It's okay to be gay -- just don't flaunt it in public."

    But us straight people flaunt our sexuality in public all the time.

    All Sam did was celebrate his opportunity with the person he loved. It's no different than the player who proposed to his girlfriend in the Green Room at MSG on Day 1 of the draft, just before getting drafted. The only difference is that Michael Sam and his lover share the same sexual plumbing.

    Someday people will look back at this and wonder what the big deal was...just like people look back and wonder what the big deal was in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, and again in 1948 when Larry Doby was the first black player in the American League.

    There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

    by Cali Scribe on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:33:33 PM PDT

  •  I hotlisted this (5+ / 0-)

    because you put it about as clearly as it gets. I need to be able to find this diary quickly when I send links to it to a few people I know who need to learn the differences between simply existing and evangelizing that you so accurately delineated here.

  •  exactly (4+ / 0-)

    Venting to my husband last night about the comparison.

    It's not like Samm is going to run on the field and start kissing all the guys.  Give me a break.  Tebow was offensive in his over-the-top 'I am a Christian' shtick.  

    I mean, where are the hungry he fed, the naked he's clothed ... okay, maybe he has, but seems, considering his propensity for self-advertisement, that we would have heard about it.

    by debk on Wed May 14, 2014 at 02:50:27 PM PDT

  •  Not to mention that he was in his own home (4+ / 0-)

    at the time.

    Non futuis apud Boston

    by kenlac on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:07:33 PM PDT

    •  Well.... his home is in Missouri (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      or Texas, if he still considers his parents' home his permanent residence, as many recent college grads often do.

      His kissin' went down in his agent's home, in California.

      Since the agent was clearly ok with that, it's really neither here nor there, but, you know...accuracy. :-)

      A homo in a bi-national relationship - at 49, I had to give up my career, leave behind my dying father, my family & friends and move to Europe. And I'm one of the *lucky* ones: Immigration Equality

      by aggieric on Thu May 15, 2014 at 01:44:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fair enough (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and thanks for the sharpening.

        Main point is that it was in a private home, where the cameras are there by the media's request -- not a field of play.

        And personally I never had a problem with Tebow's act on the field either.

        Non futuis apud Boston

        by kenlac on Thu May 15, 2014 at 01:35:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  When Michael Sam plays with "Hot Gay Dudes" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, Rachel191

    written on his face during a game, and then twerks on the field after sacking the QB, the Tebow justifiers might have a point.

    When we start attacking Tebow for chastely hugging and kissing his girlfriend while in a home, like Michael Sam did with his boyfriend, they might have a point.

    But until then, they have no point.  

    As far as I can tell, being an open brazen flaunting Christian did not cause Tebow to wait until the 7th round to be picked.  And oh, what a great pick Tebow was, we call him "Mr Interception" at our gay house.  You straight bigots must be proud.

    "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:21:52 PM PDT

  •  thanks for saying this (0+ / 0-)

    I wasn't surprised to hear the Tebow apologists carrying on about this.  He was not NFL quality and won some games courtesy of a great defense.  But anyone who tries to pass himself off as 'Super-Christian' does real Christianity a disservice.  Michael Sam may not make it in the NFL, but I"m glad that he's going to get a chance.

    sometimes the dragon wins

    by kathy in ga on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:29:32 PM PDT

  •  I've trolled a couple of RW places on this subject (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev, nota bene, Cali Scribe

    I mention that as a rule people are turned off by over the top religiosity displays. Smacks of self-righteousness and fakery.  Then I say that just annoyed people about Tebow.

    They mocked him because he couldn't throw a football.  Kurt Warner is just as religious but he could play.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:47:05 PM PDT

    •  the Warner/Tebow comparison is interesting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chitown Kev, weezilgirl

      Warner's backstory is amazing, if you're not familiar with it. Warner played college ball at Northern Iowa, not exactly a football powerhouse. He then proceeded to go from being an undrafted free agent, to working in a grocery store for minimum wage, to the Arena Football League, to getting signed by the sad-sack Rams to back up Trent Green (who ended up being lost for the season in spring training), to winning a Super Bowl, all in the space of about five years or so.

      Tebow played at Florida, won a Heisman and a couple of nat'l championships, and was a first round draft pick. He definitely never went through anything remotely like the five year period after Warner's graduation.

      Warner's open religiosity certainly irritated a lot of people while he was still an active player, but mostly he was just vocal about his personal beliefs in interviews. He is, as far as I know, apolitical. Tebow, of course, famously appeared in a Super Bowl ad paid for by Focus On The Family.

      You WANT me on that server! You NEED me on that server!

      by nota bene on Wed May 14, 2014 at 05:21:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, I thought you were going to compare (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skip945, FogCityJohn, Rachel191

    this to some of Tim Tebow's same sex kisses, lol.

    My bad!

  •  Lest we forget... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev, FogCityJohn, weezilgirl

    No one was calling for Tebow to stop displaying affection in public...

    Christian Hypocrites...

    The only difference is that Mr. Sam is out of the closet... Mr. Tebow is not...

    Same kiss... different reaction...

    So the lesson we take away is that it's OK as long as you don't say you're gay...


    "Same-sex marriage is not "gay privilege", it's equal rights. Privilege would be something like gay people not paying taxes. Like churches don't." --Ricky Gervais

    by skip945 on Wed May 14, 2014 at 03:54:22 PM PDT

  •  Jesus was a pretty showy Christian himself (0+ / 0-)

    Arguably the showiest.

    •  Jesus was a preacher (0+ / 0-)

      who specifically preached against public prayer.

      •  And then prayed in public (0+ / 0-)

        Matthew 6:9-13:

        9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

        “‘Our Father in heaven,
        hallowed be your name,
        10 your kingdom come,
        your will be done,
            on earth as it is in heaven.
        11 Give us today our daily bread.
        12 And forgive us our debts,
            as we also have forgiven our debtors.
        13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
            but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’

        John 17's a long one.

        Definitely more long-winded than Tebowing.

        •  Technically, those weren't public (0+ / 0-)

          He was with his inner circle at the time -- the Sermon on the Mount was when he went up to the mountain and his disciples came to him (it's unclear whether it was just the 12 or if it was a larger group at the time).

          Matthew 5:1: "When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him."

          And John 17 was at the Passover celebration, and it's pretty certain that just the 12 disciples were there, maybe some of the women who aided his ministry as well if they had no family of their own to tend.

          Corporate prayer has its place -- "where two or three gather in My name, there I am in the midst of them" -- but what Jesus spoke out about was more akin to Tebowing than to just unobtrusively bowing one's head for a moment of silent reflection. If instead of doing his thing on the field after a big score, Tebow had simply handed the ball to the official then went off to the sideline and bowed his head on the bench (like many sports stars do), he probably wouldn't have gotten near the blowback that he received.

          There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

          by Cali Scribe on Thu May 15, 2014 at 12:13:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Which is more showy? (0+ / 0-)

            Kneeling on the field and saying nothing or praying before people you've commanded to go and spread the word--knowing (because, well, omniscience) your words would be preserved for millennia and reach billions?  Are memoirs exercises in privacy?

            Of course Tebow wouldn't have gotten flack if he'd checked his religious displays on the field.  Question is, why did anyone care? Conservative reactions to Michael Sam are not legitimized by secular reactions to Tebow, but that in no way justifies the shit Tebow took for kneeling.

          •  And let's not forget Luke 23:34 (0+ / 0-)

            Hostile crowd.  Rubbing it in.  Doesn't get showier than that.

  •  If every time Michael Sam blocks a pass to force (0+ / 0-)

    a punt, he plants a big wet one on the middle linebacker, I personally will find it annoying, and even somewhat offensive.

    And that's all I have to say about that.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Wed May 14, 2014 at 07:14:23 PM PDT

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