Regardless of your personal stances during the topic of homosexuality, the St. Louis Rams drafting of Michael Sam was a historic moment, not just within the NFL sphere, but for the nation, as a collective culture. Despite the consistent commentary from Michael Sam throughout the pre-draft that it was “all about football,” the overwhelming passion that was boldly televised by ESPN showed that his acceptance into the stereotypically-macho National Football League was not just about living out his dream on the football field… it was about much, much more.
While we may never know the full impact of Sam’s brave move to come out in the face of adversity, one ex-NFL player recently revealed the impact that it had on his life. Over the Independence Day weekend, Brad Thorson, a former college football star who signed with the Arizona Cardinals after going undrafted in 2011, came out in his blog, “Seeing Through The Fog.”
I’ve been told many times that the process of coming out is cathartic. Yet since coming to terms with my sexuality, I found it arduous and unnecessary. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. So today, I’m putting it in writing and not looking back.
I’m also an athlete. For years, I struggled to unite these two identities in my own mind. Not until after my professional athletic career came to an end did I allow myself to understand my sexuality. Now, three years later, I’m finally ready to share that with people.
If not for the strength of athletes like Jason Collins, Michael Sam, and Brian Sims, I would likely still be struggling with my own cognitive dissonance. Each of their stories reinforced the truth that there is nothing wrong with being a competitive athlete and gay. Just as their stories helped me come to understand and accept myself, I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I hope to help someone else to understand his or her identity as a gay athlete.
According to an interview with Outsports.com, Thorson had attempted to write the piece on a number of occasions, but had never been able to press “send” until last weekend,
“I had tried to write it many times before but just didn’t have the right words to say,” Thorson said. “I got home on Wednesday and wrote it out and thought it was fitting for this weekend, so I took the plunge. I was so nervous before I wrote it, but once I wrote it I was proud of writing it and it wasn’t something I wanted to hide away anymore.”
With the courage of individuals like Michael Sam and Brad Thorson sharing their stories in our ever-progressing society, it is only a matter of time before being an openly gay athlete is no longer a headlining story. To check out the entire article by Thorton, [Click the link]. Make sure to grab some tissues…