Michael Sam told the world he is gay Sunday night. He had texted his father the news last week. Michael Sam Sr., a Baptist deacon in Texas City, Texas, has struggled to accept it. From the New York Times:
Last Tuesday, Michael Sam Sr. was at a Denny’s near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message.
Dad, I’m gay, he wrote.
The party stopped cold. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks,” Sam Sr. said. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.
It sounds like the same situation that Will Sheridan, the former Villanova basketball player, dealt with. His father also struggled accepting his son was gay, although Sheridan was much closer to his father than Sam. From a 2011 ESPN story:
Father and son didn’t speak for almost a year.
“I come from a background of all solid men,” Will Sr. said. “I’m a retired police officer. You have to understand, I didn’t grow up around people like that. I didn’t see them, didn’t know them. Even as a police officer, I didn’t have that much exposure. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it for almost a year.
This part of Sam Sr.’s interview with the Times will get the most pickup. The bold is our emphasis:
“I’m old-school,” he added. “I’m a man and a woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.
Sam Sr. went on to say that Deacon Jones, the Hall of Famer, “is turning over in his grave.”
The entire Times piece is well-worth reading, as are the details about how the Missouri campus accepted Sam’s sexuality in stride. It also makes the point that Sam’s rough upbringing in Texas was more of a challenge than coming out and potentially becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL.