By Dr. Sinclair Grey III
For a while now, the sports media has been focusing so much attention on Michael Sam and his admission that he’s gay that it’s difficult not talking about the upcoming football draft without hearing his story. With the possibility of being the ‘first openly gay’ football player, Michael Sam has handled himself professionally. Not appearing discouraged with the questions surrounding who he’s attracted to, Sam has done his best to remain focused on attempting to play in the National Football League. While at the NFL combine last week, Sam told reporters that he wished they would focus on him as the football player and not him as the first openly gay football player.
In another development, NBA basketball player, Jason Collins, the first NBA player to openly admit that he was gay rejoined the league after signing a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Once again, news media attached themselves not to the person who plays basketball, but to the person who admitted that he was gay. I don’t know about you, but the amount of attention that is given to one’s intimate affairs is overbearing. I’ll admit that it was very courageous for Sam and Collins to come forth, but it’s time to get past their dating preference and look at them as human beings.
I can’t help but remember learning the incalculable words of the Declaration of Independence in history class while in school many years ago. Going to a predominately all black elementary school and high school, I was somewhat sheltered to various groups of people. It was at the University of Maryland that I was introduced to people of all races, cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, and gender orientations. Through meeting many friends and acquaintances, I was able to see them as human beings and I tried my best not to label, categorize, or demonize them for being different. The words of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence comes to mind which states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
You’ll notice that this declaration regarded the whole person; it did not give credence to a person’s differences, especially whether they had a gender preference. How is it that we have strayed away from seeing an individual as a human being? Perhaps the answer lies within our own need or desire to judge or categorize a person based on their color, religion, ethnicity, political party affiliation, and now who they sleep with. As long as we continue in this manner, we will never embrace people as human beings.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in one of his many riveting speeches spoke of the need to not judge a person based on the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Sadly, judgment still happens. It begins when we’re unable to get past the idea that a person may be different from us. Different not so much in the sense of color, but different in the sense of lifestyle. Without embracing the differences in a person is to fail to learn about that person and from that person.
As we are about to close out Black History month (formally), I want to urge you to look at a person as a human being. All of us, for the most part, want to be treated fairly and with decency and respect. Even though we have differences, let’s move beyond the differences and work towards finding similarities. Focus on the human being and how you can help that person enjoy life, liberty, and happiness. This kind of effort will take a person out of their shell to become a willing worker to make being human meaningful.
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is a speaker, activist, published author of (4) books, life coach, and liberator of persons from all intellectual, social and cultural walks of life. He is a committed advocate for change. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @drsinclairgrey. Visit his website: www.sinclairgrey.org