Missouri defensive end Michael Sam made headlines by announcing he is gay. He is not alone. There seems to be a trend for athletes to publicly proclaim their homosexuality. Figure skater Brian Boitano and basketball player Jason Collins preceded Sam in “coming out”. Of course, these announcements are met with great fanfare and support. It’s lauded as courageous and inspirational by the media and prominent public figures. Apparently it’s quite a big deal to have the public know your sexual proclivities. But why? This doesn’t seem like information that’s essential for me to know regardless of your sexual identification or occupation, but it seems to have vital importance for some.
For one thing, your sex life doesn’t matter to me. I have gay friends and family, and it’s not something I’ve ever made central to my relationship with them. I have never given it primary status in my life and don’t see why it should be in yours, or theirs. For example, I wouldn’t include my sexual attraction to women in the “tell me about yourself” section of any questionnaire or interview — although I foresee it soon being a box to check on applications of all stripes. But for some reason this information is consistently offered unsolicited by homosexuals. It really seems to be a foundational part of who they are.
Maybe I’m too jaded by politics and agendizing of political movements. But I take it as an invitation for confrontation — not necessarily intentional though. This is what I hear: “I’m gay, you better be OK with it.” I think it’s offered to gain affirmation. Let’s face it, you must be looking for some reaction if you’re putting such an intimate fact about your personal life out there, right? This is, of course, not an accurate way to gauge the acceptance of friends and family, and certainly not new acquaintances. Most people are unwilling to be called names if they hold a moral objection to your sexuality and will more often than not nod along and pat you on the back.
Why advertise? Why is this thing about yourself such that you feel a need to wear it on your sleeve for all to see? I’m curious why homosexuals feel their sexuality is a defining factor in who they are. Why should I know this about you, why is it my business? What does it really say about who you are? Are you looking for confrontation? Are you saying to us, ‘I dare you to challenge me on this’?
Am I wrong here? What other reasons could you have for offering me this information about yourself?