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Build ‘Em Up, To Tear ‘Em Down: Holding Our LGBT Role Models To A Higher Standard

sam_vito_kiss[Editor's note: A recent Queerty article that reported on a past relationship that Vito Cammisano, the current boyfriend of Michael Sam, had with an adult film star raised a variety of reactions among our readers. Some felt that the out football player should be immune from the queer media's microscope, while others felt that this peek into his lover's past was no different from the straight media's investigation into the personal life of a hetero celeb. It wasn't Queerty's intention to shame anyone for having dated a porn star. There were even a few, such as the author of this essay, who were also perturbed by what they believed was a misleading headline.]

By now we’ve all seen the tear-jerking video of Michael Sam’s hard work and dedication paying off, his dreams becoming a reality and history being made in the world of sports as he stood hand in hand with his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano and heard the news that the St. Louis Rams’ made him the 249th overall choice in the 2014 draft. Sam became the very first openly gay person to be drafted to the NFL and in doing so, paved the way for future LGBT athletes for generations to come.

Now I’m not a pessimistic person by nature, but I’ve seen the way these things usually play out in the media. Someone does something truly remarkable, we praise them for a little while; it makes headlines, sells papers and gets hits on the websites. Inevitably, the love affair with said person gets a little boring, runs its course and the story dies down. That’s when the media jackals come in and start ripping the person we just idolized apart, limb from limb. They dig up and dish out all sorts of juicy tidbits about the person, whether rooted in fact or fiction. They sell more papers; get more hits on the websites. The story is reborn and the cycle of news continues.

michael-sam-and-boyfriend-feat-415x260A few days ago, not one week after Michael Sam was drafted, I was scrolling through Queerty, as I normally do and was shocked by a “news” headline that read, “Michael Sam’s Boyfriend Vito Cammisano Has A Surprising Gay Porn Past.”

Holy Moses! Really? So Mr. Cammisano used to do gay porn? Not exactly. So, Mr. Cammisano used to write, direct or produce gay porn? Not exactly. How does Mr. Cammisano have, “a surprising gay porn past” you ask? The answer is: he doesn’t. When you click on the misleading title, you come to realize that Mr. Cammisano used to allegedly date someone who did porn. Um…excuse me?

Listen, we all watch porn and if you say you don’t, you’re a liar and I’m sending Jesus Christ over to search your browsing history. That said, dating someone in an industry that we all “benefit” from is not a big deal, and certainly should not be used to slight someone or detract from an amazing achievement.

Personally, I live in Chelsea and hand to God, you can’t swing a bag of lube in this neighborhood without hitting someone in the porn industry. In fact, some of the people I’ve hit with that bag say it’s a “badge of honor” to date someone in porn.

michael-sam-and-vito-cammisanoNow, whether or not there are badges given out for helping old ladies across the street, fire safety or double fisting is not important. What is important is that this article, and all too often, the media’s behavior, used unfounded and salacious stories to prey on a momentous moment in LGBT courage. If the intent was to just “report” on the dating history of a semi-public figure, why not write about the time he allegedly dated a librarian? I, for one, would love to read, “Michael Sam’s Boyfriend Vito Cammisano Has A Surprising Dewey Decimal System Past.”

However, the intent of the article was not to lift this young gay couple up and thank them for opening doors and minds. It seemed to be just to spread a rumor about Mr. Cammisano by creating a “surprising” headline, and then to imply a societal stigma and underbelly to it that could be spun into juicy gossip. The piece then goes on to insinuate some rather kinky things about Mr. Cammisano’s sex life, one of them being a link to a cropped picture of someone’s back marred with red scratches and a caption alluding to Mr. Cammisano’s night of passion during IML weekend. Now, if we’re throwing out possibilities of who that headless picture might be of, I’d say it’s allegedly a picture of my Grandma Tilly’s best friend’s neighbor Ingrid’s bastard nephew Ted, after he fell into a briar patch (…or of me coming out of the Fire Island Meat Rack).

unnamed

John Carroll, Photo credit: Kevin McDermott

Michael Sam worked his entire life to get to this prestigious point in his career as well as for the strength of character to put it all on the line by coming out in what is very well known to be a homophobic environment. The two men also made history by having their kiss filmed on ESPN of all channels, shown in every football fan’s living room, and at sports bars across the globe. We disrespect his journey and the journey of the LGBT movement by pushing this victory aside so quickly. We didn’t even get a week to smell the roses before the media started kicking up shit in the fertilizer.

Where is the loyalty and responsibility that LGBT journalists have to people paving the way for the betterment of our community? It’s not about ignoring important news stories, it’s about knowing what an important news story is. It’s not about protecting LGBT people in the public eye that are a mess, it’s about respecting those who are carrying the torch for equal rights and supporting them in the process.

We have come so far in the fight for LGBT rights; it would be a shame to implode now. It doesn’t suit our cause to remain the catty queen on the playground or the drunk, verbal loose cannon at the end of the bar. I know. I’ve been her. We need to continue to build a safe environment so that people in the public eye can come out of the closet without fear that the jackals of the World Wide Web will attack them or their loved ones. We all have a responsibility to keep the momentum going for equality, especially those in the media.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call my therapist, pop a Xanax and wait to read the many porn-themed things that will be written about me. Post away, my friends, post away.

 

John Carroll is a Broadway performer, writer and activist. For more information on him, go to TheJohnCarroll.com.

By:           JOHN CARROLL
On:           May 20, 2014
Tagged: , ,

  • 36 Comments
    • PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID
      PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID

      Some accountability and journalistic integrity on this website. Thank you.

      May 20, 2014 at 7:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ArrowCapet
      ArrowCapet

      Your piece expresses my thoughts exactly after reading the “porn” article. Well done.

      May 20, 2014 at 7:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BJ McFrisky
      BJ McFrisky

      Of course Michael Sam’s sexuality is going to trump his football career as long as he invites TV cameras into his home to film him kissing his boyfriend—with cake on his face—while crying—and planning a reality show with Oprah.
      Not exactly the trailblazing role model I was hoping for.

      May 20, 2014 at 8:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @BJ McFrisky:

      Once again BJ will automatically attack anything gay and defend anything anti-gay.

      Funny how I don’t see you attacking EVERY OTHER PLAYER on the draft whose reaction was filmed that night. Oh wait, of course BJ wouldn’t attack them, they aren’t gay, or if they are they aren’t out of the closet. BJ only likes anti-gay politicians, self hating gays, and closet cases.

      May 20, 2014 at 8:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ihadtosayit
      Ihadtosayit

      Yes, it makes sense we live in a judgmental world that loves to condemn as fast as it champions someone because it titillates and causes others to speculate to have the WRONG conversations or to paint that person as NO better than anyone else…this is not only in the gay world but in general…for example: Michael Sam gets drafted takes a picture with his boyfriend Vito and BAM…there it is Vito was boyfriends with a porn star Austin Wilde…what does that mean, is he HIV+ because Austin does bareback, he only likes black men…and it goes on and on and on…

      It reminds me of a GREAT quote from Rupert Everett (I am paraphrasing): “you spend your life in a straight world where you are condemned and judged for who you love and when you finally get to the point where you accept yourself you come out….only to discover that you traded one cruel world for another…

      Far too many gays think it is their “right” pass judgement (being catty or throwing shade) on others because of it has been done to them…many gay men need to dig deeper and resist these petty and side comments to their friends about their looks, weight, employment and other things…we are an evolving group that needs the support (NOT BLINDLY but with understanding and compassion) of our members as we climb up the ladder in society.

      Lastly, do not let these court cases fool you, we are still facing discrimination (work place and for housing), higher suicide rates and other things more so than ever that are making our lives harder and sometimes unbearable to live…

      May 20, 2014 at 8:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @Ihadtosayit:

      My issue also was that the headline and the article were both completely misleading. The headline insinuated that he was in gay porn, and the article commented on how “SHOCKING” the photos were.

      May 20, 2014 at 8:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • xzall
      xzall

      I doubt very much that Vito would walk around with scratches on his back like that considering that he’s a college swimmer who constantly has to have his shirt off. He’d have to spend a lot of time explaining to his coach and teammate what’s going on.

      But it’s funny how quickly the claws come out to try to bring Michael Same down even if indirectly. It’s certainly different than the praise and sunshine Queerty constantly blows up Tom Daley’s you know what. Robbie Rogers also gets the hands off treatment. I don’t even know if he has a personal life.

      What’s the difference? All are young male athlete of similar age who recently came out. One gets heavily protected coverage and with the other, the assumption is immediately made that he has some kind of shady past. I’m beginning to think we can’t really ignore the race factor here in how coming out stories are covered.

      May 20, 2014 at 8:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @xzall:

      Didn’t even think about it until you alluded to it. Yes, very interesting.

      May 20, 2014 at 9:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ihadtosayit
      Ihadtosayit

      Let’s not forget that with the “hiding behind the internet” phenomenon that is rampant and going completely unchecked…comments have been more personal, racial, homophobic and as vile as ever…

      May 20, 2014 at 10:05 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sportyguy1983
      sportyguy1983

      If you can’t take the heat of being a public figure (a position most VOLUNTARILY do), then stay out of the kitchen

      May 20, 2014 at 10:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • J with da tea
      J with da tea

      @xzall: hmmm. Very interesting point you’ve made. I’m glad this piece was written. Kudos to the author for having integrity and dignity.

      May 20, 2014 at 10:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @sportyguy1983:

      This article was not about Michael Sam complaining. It was about a Posting here on Queerty that had a purposely false headline with misleading information in the body of the article. It was about an incidence of the gay press targeting perhaps unfairly a recently famous gay celeb.

      May 20, 2014 at 10:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ihadtosayit
      Ihadtosayit

      @sportyguy1983: this is about decency and integrity not having thick skin…so if I follow your logic if you come out to your friends and family (or even at work) you should be able to handle the barrage of negative things and/or words that are thrown your way…if you know of a method that one can take to make one’s skin more thick and less resilient to insults and hurtful words you should share it …we are all humans and we are capable of being HURT and/or WOUNDED…while it does get better no one has the right to mandate the speed of this course but rather we need look within ourselves and think before we act without compassion and a guiding hand …as I wrote above this is what needs to STOP this notion that once you have announced that you are gay that the gloves should come off because YOU SHOULD be able to deal with anything…the truth is YOU SHOULD NOT have to…

      May 20, 2014 at 11:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ihadtosayit
      Ihadtosayit

      @Cam: sensationalism meets irresponsibility =THAT ARTICLE

      May 20, 2014 at 11:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sportyguy1983
      sportyguy1983

      Cry me a river.

      May 20, 2014 at 11:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @sportyguy1983:

      Please explain your issue? You keep trying to indicate that somehow Sam and his boyfriend are complaining. This was about a misleading headline on a gay blog that insinuated things that were not in the article. This is about journalistic responsibility and you keep trying to make it seem as if it is about something else.

      May 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ihadtosayit
      Ihadtosayit

      @Cam: sportyguy1983 seemingly wants the attention whether it be negative an/or positive…..not adding anything constructive and/or compassionate but rather destructive and/or divisive to suit their inner needs…as I said earlier their are countless people of today hiding behind the internet to spout negative ideas and/or words that he or she would not say in a public forum…

      Many gays and/or lesbians make the decision to come out and no matter what that arena looks like (celebrity, small town, conservative family, loving family, supportive friends, dismissive friends, etc.) it is a personal challenge that need not be minimized and/or marred by an invisible person with slighting words

      May 20, 2014 at 12:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • lykeitiz
      lykeitiz

      I couldn’t agree more with this essay & I applaud the author for getting it printed. However, once I got past my anger with Queerty for printing such a non-productive piece of filth, another thought started to creep in. What if the online rumors about Vito are true? What if he is from a mob family & his last boyfriend was a long-term porn star? How much added drama does Michael Sam need as he begins his hugely uphill battle with the NFL? Yes, Michael Sam is an adult who can make his own decisions, but if he were your friend, would you say anything to him? If we’re really a community, then shouldn’t the more important question be: Are the 2 of them really beginning a meaningful relationship, or is Michael Sam being sidelined by a star-fucking skank with a dangerous family? Certainly Queerty’s article did NOTHING to help, but with all the attention around Sam, there are questions…..

      May 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hotboyvb81
      hotboyvb81

      frankly, I think it’s good to be honest and fair…if the celeb media can destroy a str8 couples lives/marriage- well, equality dictates the same for us…usually we cannonize our newly out- Anderson Coper won a lifetime achievement award 6 months after FINALLY coming out, the day before Tom Daley came out- 3 out of 4 people called him acloset case, media whore- then he became St Thomas of a DivingBoard…Sam’s bf’s past isn’t something to slam Sam with- he may not have known, but if the bf proves to be a media whore out for attention, why not say so- it might save Michael embarrassment/headache….I know- I’m not allowed to have an opinion on an opinion/comment section- SORRY!

      May 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • vangelis_vt
      vangelis_vt

      I fail to find something uplifting about this couple or their media shenanigans. The message they send to young gay people everywhere is that the only positive attributes a gay male can look up to are instagram narcissism, general “hotness”, sexual availability and desirability.

      Let’s not fool ourselves, the fact that this jock used to advertise dating a jockish porn-star before dating an actual football player only highlights this unpleasantness. The vibe I’m getting from the notorious kissing scene and their whole “relationship” thing is that it consists of little more than banging each other and then gloating to the whole world about it.

      May 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      Because we all know that no straight persons never, ever had relationships prior with anyone who was had any questionable activities in their past……………

      May 20, 2014 at 12:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sportyguy1983
      sportyguy1983

      Sorry to burst your bubble but I give my opinion (whether you like it or not, whether you agree with it or not) because I like giving my opinion. I could care less about attention. People could easily ignore my opinion and I will still give it on articles that grab my attention. And FYI, my opinions online are the same I give in person.

      May 20, 2014 at 1:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MarionPaige
      MarionPaige

      I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have tried to make some money off of a photo of “Cammisano In A Sling” if I had such a photo. However,

      When you show the world that you are willing to trash someone else’s life on the possibility that it will give you your fifteen minutes AND THEN YOU DON’T GET THOSE FIFTEEN MINUTES, you just end up looking desperate and damaged. Will Michael Musto ever live down “Whitney Houston is Gay?”

      We all now know that Michael Sam had a production crew in the room when that spectacle happened. So, it makes you wonder If Sam was so desperate for gay kiss drama that he jumped at doing the kiss with someone he didn’t know very well.

      It seems likely that eventually, the gay pornstar will make “some” money off of any sex tapes he may have of “the boyfriend”.

      May 20, 2014 at 1:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • andrewstow
      andrewstow

      I didn’t understand why it was a big deal that he dated a guy that works in the adult industry. Since every person here has watched adult entertainment (more than once), it just shows the absolute hypocrisy of the LGBTQIA community and why I’m frequently ashamed to be part of it.

      May 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LubbockGayMale
      LubbockGayMale

      Why do so many of us have the need to topple our ‘heroes/idols’ off the public pedestal? If we get p/o’d ‘cuz they won’t come out, but knock them when they do, how are we helping our cause????

      May 20, 2014 at 2:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Geeker
      Geeker

      I just wonder how long it will be before Austin Wilde releases a tape(s)of Cammisano taking loads on tape because apparently Wilde is a barebacker in his private life as well.

      May 20, 2014 at 3:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • denvermtnbiker
      denvermtnbiker

      Glad to see this article, and couldn’t agree more. Queerty could use a lot more thoughtful, intelligent journalism like this on the site…

      May 20, 2014 at 8:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DickieJohnson
      DickieJohnson

      @LubbockGayMale: Because they’re bitchy-whiney fags who can’t stand anyone else’s happiness, fame, good-looks, or success in any form. Really, I’m starting to dislike that stereotype even more than ever before.

      This is probably the most sane, well-written article I’ve ever read on the Queerty site!

      May 20, 2014 at 9:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Blackceo
      Blackceo

      @DickieJohnson:

      Wait…Queerty allows the word fag to be posted, but I get the censorship treatment whenever I try and post r*a*c*i*s*t? Oh that makes sense.

      http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/GirlBye2.gif

      May 20, 2014 at 11:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Yiannis
      Yiannis

      This is an excellent editorial, Mr. Carroll. Well done!

      May 21, 2014 at 4:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tackle
      Tackle

      John Carroll, your artical is a day late, and a dollor short. Timing is everything. And this article would have made more since, and been more affective, a day or two after the original article come out. And honestly, everyone pretty much new it was a BS headline after the first day. But I want to go over some MIS-points (my word) in your article. You called it a tear-jerker: (video). C’mon man! I can see if someone had lukemia, or some other deadly cancer or disease, to defy the odds to get drafted. No tear-jerker for me. And futher down in your article, you clame that Michael worked his entire life to get to ths point in his career: well if that’s the case, he should have come to the comebine in better shape. No one who has worked their entire life for an opportunity of a lifetime, comes to such an event out of shape like Micheal did. I just don’t think he took it that seriously.And you talk about loyalty & responsibility. Well sometimes it’s better to “let sleeping dogs lie.” As I said before, people knew the headline was BS on the first day. And forgot about this/that article and moved on. And here you are a week later STILL upset and bothered by this. By rehashing this, you are giving those (opposition) who may have missed the original story,to go back re-dig, and use this against Micheal. And much of this is to blame on Micheal, his handerlers, and Vito. No one knew Kerry Washington was married, and she’s more famous than Micheal Sam. Not saying that Micheal should have been ashamed of Vito, but Vito could have been kept in the background, until after the final slection. Giving Micheal the 100% focus he needs,without preventible distractions.Vito, Micheal and his agents, advisors/ handlers should have known that Vito having dated a bereback pornstar was bound to surface, and with the most salacious and scandalous stories possible.. Unless Vito did not disclose this to Micheal. Or if Micheal knew about this, and did not disclose this to anyone. I’m betting on this scenario. And that being said, What is the point of you submitting a full body pic in a tank-top? Are you really serious about what you wrote, or are you trying to show how hot you are. I would have thought a nice simple face pic would have been appropriate for this.

      May 21, 2014 at 8:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @Tackle:

      So basically he should have kept everything on the downlow according to you?

      May 21, 2014 at 9:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sportyguy1983
      sportyguy1983

      I didn’t realize it was the media’s (gay or straight/mainstream) responsibility to “protect” “icons/role models” from bad publicity. I always thought it was their responsibility to report on stories. Very interesting.

      May 21, 2014 at 11:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DK
      DK

      @sportyguy1983: Well now you know: the media has a civic responsibility to report on stories, honestly. What’s interesting is your continued pretense that you don’t understand people are protesting the dishonest and sleazy way the story was reported, not that fact of its reporting.

      May 21, 2014 at 7:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DK
      DK

      @xzall: @J with da tea: Good catch. Dustin Lance Black dated porn actor Tom Delancy. DLB also has a tape with him doing intimate things with said porn actor and he used to frequent Bryan Singer’s “white twinks only” parties. Whither the headlines “Tom Daley’s boyfriend has a surprising gay porn past” or “Tom Daley’s boyfriend has a surprising tape scandal past” or “Tom Daley’s boyfriend has a surprising scandalous party past”? Very good catch.

      @PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID: @denvermtnbiker: Yes, thirded — probably the best ever article on here. They should print more pieces like it.
      @DK: Well now you know: the media has a civic responsibility to report on stories, honestly. What’s interesting is your continued pretense that you don’t understand people are protesting the dishonest and sleazy way the story was reported, not that fact of its reporting.

      May 21, 2014 at 7:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tackle
      Tackle

      @Cam: Not everything. Only Vito. And until after the final selection. Due to how unfair and vicious the media can be, due to him dating a bb pornstar.

      May 22, 2014 at 10:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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