On the third and final day of the 2014 NFL draft, seven slots before the final selection, history was made. Michael Sam, a decorated defensive end from the University of Missouri, became the first openly gay player in the history of the league. He had planned to come out after the draft so that his status didn’t affect his position, but rumors started swirling around the time of the combine event, so he announced that he was gay at that time, creating an instant media firestorm that lasted until his eventual draft selection by the St Louis Rams on Saturday.
The media mostly celebrated his openness and draft success, though many sports commentators questioned his actual NFL prospects, both athletically and socially. The reaction among Twitter jockeys, on the other hand was almost exclusively negative. There was plenty of name-calling, of course, but the worst part of it was more subtle and insidious: the “who cares?!?” trolls.
The rational response to something that one doesn’t care about is to…not care about it. Why would you spend any time or effort reacting to something that you “don’t care” about? However, Twitter, unlike the rest of the world, is not a rational place. So when Sam was drafted and the media celebration began, the reaction among many, mostly social conservatives, who “don’t care” was to spend hours and hours tweeting about it. Seems legit.
Dear straight and gay ppl, NO ONE CARES WHO YOU HAVE SEX WITH! We have MUCH bigger problems. You know, like debt, deficit, MATH!!
— Heather (@hboulware) May 11, 2014
— Jason (@Veritas1977) May 11, 2014
— AndyMoore (@PirateDeepwater) May 11, 2014
— Heather (@hboulware) May 11, 2014
And that wasn’t the worst of it, of course. Just search for “Michael Sam fag” and witness the seething underbelly of the internet revealed in all its glory. On second thought, don’t.
And while that may be the explicitly worst reaction we saw, there is another one that might be even worse: the “concerned” parents. After ESPN showed Sam giving a couple short joyful kisses to his boyfriend in his home after being drafted, the howls immediately began from parents just shocked and horrified that they might actually have to speak to their children.
— Supreme Magnetic XL (@MrGoldPackXL) May 11, 2014
Boycotting sportscenter til this michael sam nasty ass shit is off …. My brothers are 7 and 11 and saw that!!! #SICKENING
— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
If Marshall Henderson thinks his 11 year old brother has never seen two men kiss, he’s dumber than I can fathom.
This is the same terrible parenting that I encountered after the New York Magazine cover about bisexuality. Any time someone is seen expressing same-sex affection on television, terrible parents are aghast that they will have to explain this situation to their precious snowflakes. The fact that all it would require is “Some men like women, and some like other men,” implies that the issue isn’t one of parenting, but rank bigotry. These people aren’t actually concerned about their parenting rights, as little as they demonstrate they deserve them. They don’t personally approve of homosexuality, so they don’t think it should be seen in public, and their children are the human shields they use to excuse their own personal disgust.
So let’s not beat around the bush. People who “don’t care” for hours on end, people who don’t want to explain to their children, and people who express violent, explicit disgust over public awareness of LGBT existence are just slight variations of the same ugly, anachronistic, hateful theme. And they all should be shamed accordingly.