NFL draft prospect Michael Sam came out over the weekend. Though the public response from the NFL and many players was positive, an article full of off-the-record NFL sources showed there's still some resistance to an openly gay player in the league. Apparently some older NFL types are under the impression that gay men are fragile creatures who need to be handled with kiddie gloves while they're not eye fucking and chemically unbalancing the rest of the locker room. Let's clear up some myths.
Myth #1: For their own good, gay men must be kept 100 yards away from anyone who could possibly utter the word "faggot."
An NFL player personnel assistant anonymously worried in a Sports Illustrated article that "to call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace" in the locker room.
As it turns out, however, gay men do not instantly turn into helpless piles of sprinkled pudding upon hearing the word "faggot." Michael Sam knows what he's getting into, and we really doubt overhearing some idiotic locker-room talk will have any impact on his ability to play. Plus, purposely keeping a player off your team just because he's gay won't positively affect the NFL's locker-room culture.
Plus, we doubt even the harshest NFL trash talker has anything on the insulting ability of a drunk, angry drag queen with a microphone at a gay club at 2 a.m. Those queens can get nasty, and then gay men just tip them a dollar afterward for their trouble.
Myth #2: Gay football players will totally try to sex you up in the locker room.
"Imagine if he's the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me," the Saints' Jonathan Vilma asked last week. "How am I supposed to respond?"
Um, if you need tips on how to deal with people giving you unsolicited sexual glances, just ask the young women your team pays to jump up and down in spandex on the sidelines every week. They might have some experience in that area.
Besides, despite popular misconceptions, gay men do not go around fantasizing about every straight guy they see. Let T-Pain explain:
Attention all homophobic idiots: if you're not attractive to straight women, you're probably not attractive to gay men. You can unclench now
— T-Pain (@TPAIN) April 16, 2013
Myth #3: Gay men read Good Housekeeping.
"Every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the media is going to show up, from Good Housekeeping to the Today show," one anonymous former general manager claimed about the media's interest in the story. "A general manager is going to ask, 'Why are we going to do that to ourselves?'"
As it turns out, though, believe it or not, most gay men do not read Good Housekeeping (and if they do, well, it's not like there's anything wrong with that). Nor does Good Housekeeping traditionally have much of an interest in gay athletes. It's coverage of the NFL is limited to the best bean dip recipes to serve during the Super Bowl. It's coverage of gay issues is usually just Ellen Degeneres stories.
Myth #4: Gays come out only for attention
That was the implication at least when an assistant coach in that SI article theoretically asked, "Do you really want to be the top of the conversation for everything without ever having played a down in this league?"
No, Michael Sam probably didn't, but rumors of his sexuality reportedly dominated the conversation among scouts. Teams were reportedly asking around, quite pointedly, if he'd ever had a girlfriend. The league sort of forced his hand here. No one wants the attention of a very public coming-out. The point is that by doing so, Sam has made it easier for others to come out without having to endure that same level of attention.
Myth #5: Gay men will chemically imbalance a locker room.
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The same dude who worried about gay slurs in Myth #1 also stated that the addition of a gay player would "chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room."
If that's actually a problem, it's probably because your locker room is way too basic.