One Direction’s Harry Styles is showing support for NFL player Michael Sam, who earlier this year came out as gay. The singer donned a St. Louis Rams jersey emblazoned both with the number 96 and Sam’s name on the back, at a concert the band was giving in St.Louis on Wednesday night. The concert took place at the Edward Jones Dome, the same venue in which the Rams play football.
This is not the first time that Styles has expressed his support for the LGBT community. In June of this year, he helped Stonewall (the largest LGBT equality charity in Europe) celebrate their 25th anniversary. The Worcestershire native has long been an advocate for equal rights of all kinds, and has also been the supporter of various other charities. Earlier this month, Styles completed the highly coveted ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, in which participants dump buckets of ice-cold water over themselves and donate money in support of the illness Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, of which an approximate 450,000 people are said to be living with worldwide.
Styles’ show of support comes seven months after fellow band mate Liam Payne came under fire for publicly praising Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson on his twitter, stating that he believed Robertson and his family believed in true values and were people to look up to. Fans were outraged at Payne’s support of the man, due to Robertson having recently expressed his view that, in his mind, homosexuality was akin to bestiality. The conflict escalated to the point that Payne threatened to deactivate his Twitter due to harassment, which he felt he did not deserve.
Style’s support for the football player comes amidst an array of both negativity and encouragement for Sam choosing to reveal his sexuality. While the man’s teammates have reportedly backed him to no end in the months following the player’s announcement, many others in the sporting world have expressed their disdain upon hearing the announcement. ESPN analyst Herm Edwards made the comment that Sam’s sexuality was going to be considered baggage, and as such he was going to have a difficult time being drafted. This idea was echoed thereafter by former Super Bowl coach Tony Dungy, who said in an interview that he would never have drafted Sam, due to his homosexuality being a distraction. Dungy recently swallowed his words, however, praising Sam’s preseason performance in a statement given to NBC Sports. ESPN came under public scrutiny just a few days ago for airing a segment that focused on the showering routines of Sam. The network has since apologized for their segment, admitting that it was insensitive and failed to meet the standards they have set up for LGBT coverage.
Harry Styles has so far received nothing but praise for his support of NFL player Michael Sam. Sam himself has not yet given any statement regarding the recent show of encouragement. At this point, Sam is more concerned with surviving the final cuts in order to make the team.
By Rebecca Grace