Dale Hansen is the sports anchor at ABC’s Dallas affiliate WFAA. For months, I have been trying to eloquently define “justice” in celebrations of today’s One Billion Rising for JUSTICE. When Kit Gruelle and Ginny Nicarthy shared the video of Mr. Hansen chastising people for not welcoming Michael Sam into the NFL, I realized he had captured “justice” perfectly and eloquently:
Yesterday Missouri’s All-American defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC’s defensive player of the year and expected to be a third- to fifth-round pick in the NFL draft tells the world he’s gay. The best defensive player in the college football’s best conference only a third- to fifth-round NFL pick. Really? That is shocking. And, I guess that other thing is too.
Michael Sam, who would be the first openly gay player in the NFL, says he knows there will be problems, and they’ve already started: several NFL officials telling Sports Illustrated it will hurt him on draft day because a gay player wouldn’t be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would be uncomfortable because that’s a man’s world.
You beat a woman, and drag her down a flight of stairs pulling her hair out by the roots; you’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft. You kill people while driving drunk — that guy’s welcome. Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes; we know they’re welcome. Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away. You lie to police, trying to cover up a murder — we’re comfortable with that. You love another man, well now; you’ve gone too far.
It wasn’t that long ago when we were being told that Black players couldn’t play in our games because it would be uncomfortable. And, even when they finally could, it took several more years before a Black man played quarterback because we weren’t comfortable with that either.
So, many of the same people who used to make that argument and the many that still do are the same people who say government should stay out of our lives, but then want government in our bedrooms. I’ve never understood how they feel comfortable laying claim to both sides of that argument.
I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he’s gay. I don’t understand his world. But, I do understand that he’s part of mine. Civil rights activist Audre Lorde said:
We’ve always been able to recognize them. Some of us accept them. And, I want to believe that there will be a day when we do celebrate them. I don’t know if that day is here yet. I guess we’re about to find out. But, when I listen to Michael Sam, I do think it is time to celebrate him now.
Bravo to Mr. Hansen and Mr. Sam for their courage and integrity! Happy, V-Day, y’all.