Last weekend, the St. Louis Rams drafted the first out gay man to play for the NFL. Michael Sam, a defensive lineman, was picked during the seventh round of the NFL draft and shared a controversial and emotional kiss with his boyfriend while on air. While many fans have supported the progress and acceptance marked by Sam’s admittance to the NFL, others are vehemently opposed to gay men playing for the National Football League. Miami Dolphins safety, Don Jones, tweeted his displeasure with the gay kiss. His discriminatory remark led to a fine and subsequent suspension from the team. Christian leader Jack Burkman, outraged by the Ram’s pick, is in the process of organizing a boycott of both the St. Louis Rams and Visa, the credit card company sponsoring Sam.
Burkman is inciting a volatile, extremist network of grassroot Christian organizations in order to orchestrate his intended boycott. Burkman has said that, “Visa and the Rams will learn that when you trample the Christian community and Christian values, there will be a terrible financial price to pay.” Burkman believes that Michael Sam’s draft pick is symptomatic of a larger, American moral erosion. He and his supporters intend to discourage fans from buying Rams merchandise or utilizing Visa credit cards. Ironically, Sam’s jersey has become one of the top-selling pieces of merchandise.
Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, has commented on the legitimacy of Jack Burkman’s boycott. Guequierre has said that America is ready for an openly gay player and that Burkman’s boycott, “…will go nowhere.” Many queer people and LGBTQ supporters are uploading pictures of two men or two women kissing on social media. The hashtag #kissin is circulating on Twitter and Facebook.
Christian lobbyists, including Burkman, also plan to support a draft bill that bans openly gay players from the NFL. The proposed boycott does not appear to include teams or players with members on them that contradict other Christian values, such as sexual assault, child abuse, and the like.
A video entitled How to Talk to Your Kids About Michael Sam parodies the Christian hypocrisy perpetuated by leaders such as Burkman who scapegoat gay individuals and ignore the criminal acts of straight players. The video, appearing on the channel Heck Bender, shows a father informing his “kid” about the gay addition to the NFL. The “son” lists off several players who have committed crimes, abuses, or other acts that would constitute as biblically immoral but are not being targeted by Burkman’s boycott and are currently still playing for the NFL. Among the crimes by straight players listed on the video are felony vandalism, rape, petty larceny, child abuse, DUI, felony possession of a deadly weapon, and public intoxication.
The video ends with the “son” asking the rhetorical question, “Why do homophobic men think that gay guys want them all the time?” The “son” in the video also wonders why homophobic men think about penises so often. The youtube channel, Heck Bender, also includes a parody video about Ellen Page. While Michael Sam has had detractors like Burkman and others who plan to protest the Rams and Visa since being drafted on Saturday of last week, he also has many fans and supporters that believe in equality for all people.
Follow Michael Sam on twitter @MichaelSamNFL.
By: James Ryder