Life hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk for Michael Sam since he rocketed to national headlines becoming the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL.
But while the NFL hasn’t quite played out like he wanted — perhaps in part due to him coming out — Sam has managed to stay visible through appearances in GQ to Dancing With the Stars.
Most importantly, he sees the value in his choice to challenge homophobia on and off the field.
In an upcoming Attitude cover story, Sam discusses everything from his place as a role model to the problems he sees within the gay community around race.
Read some highlights below:
On the reaction to his coming out:
It was amazing. There was a friend who told me to give his cousin a call – she had tried to commit suicide twice. After she heard my story she promised herself she would never do it. People kill themselves because they can’t handle the pressure and that stress. It’s very sad. If by me living my life, I can save someone, I would do it again.
On racism in the gay community:
It’s terrible. 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 colour of their skin? I just don’t understand that at all. How are you saying that, ‘oh, I want people to accept me because I’m gay but I don’t accept you because you’re black, or because you’re white or because you’re Asian’.
On homophobia in the black community:
I can only go by my experience and the people I’ve been around. I think it’s more accepting, actually. 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. 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’. None. There are people who are over religious who go, ‘oh, you’re a fag, you’re going to hell.’ That’s everywhere. Ted Cruz is pretty much anti-gay.
The May issue of Attitude is out now digitally and in print in shops.