Michael Sam: I've Been Told I'm 'Not Gay' or 'Black Enough'
In the latest issue of Attitude Magazine, Michael Sam says the gay community still has a long way to go when it comes to racial equality.
Sam is featured on the cover of the U.K. magazine's May "All American" issue. The out football player told the magazine he had a hard time feeling accepted by the gay community after coming out because of his race.
“It’s terrible," Sam told Attitude. "People have told me I’m not gay enough, people have told me I’m not black enough. I don’t know what that means. You want to be accepted by other people but you don’t even accept someone just because of the color of their skin? I just don’t understand that at all."
By contrast, the player says that he never experienced judgement from the black community after he came out as gay, countering a lingering claim advanced by some that the African-American church, specifically, is virulently, unchangingly homophobic.
“I can only go by my experience and the people I’ve been around. I think it’s more accepting, actually," Sam said of his experience in the black community. "There are a lot of black, openly gay people. A lot of people have [gay] friends, cousins, brothers, sisters. … They have at least one openly gay person, at least it’s more accepting, that’s my experience."
The player acknowledged that when he was called a "faggot," it was never by another black person, but rather by a member of a religious community, who also told him, "You're going to hell."
"People tell me they have family members who are gay and it doesn’t freak them out, and no black person ever freaked out at me, 'Oh, you’re gay,'" he told the magazine. "None."
The former Montreal Alouettes player went on to describe how faith-based discrimination against LGBT people is much more rampant than homophobia is in the black community.
"That’s everywhere. Ted Cruz is pretty much anti-gay,” Sam, who grew up in Cruz's home state of Texas, told the magazine.
Last week, Sam made headlines when he responded to allegations that the St. Louis Rams only drafted the player because they wanted to avoid being on an HBO series about NFL training camps. A sportswriter claimed that if Sam had not been drafted after coming out, it would have been embarassing for the league.
"I'm not suprised at all," Sam tweeted to his followers the day the news broke. Jeff Fischer, the Rams' head coach, denied the allegations. "When we drafted Michael he was the best player on the board," he said. "Who in their right mind would think that you give up a draft choice to avoid doing something like that?"