BY JENNIE MCNULTY
So, by now, even non-football fans know who Michael Sam is. He’s the the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL. He was the guy who was shown kissing his boyfriend when he found out he was going to play professional football. He was the guy chosen 249th overall who has gotten more press than almost all of the preceding 248 picks. Yeah, that guy.
Well, the homophobes have responded. In addition to all the predictable right-wing blathering, a Miami Dolphin player (Don Jones) tweeted “Horrible” in response to the kiss. He was fined, suspended and ordered to undergo sensitivity training. After eight days of said training he was reinstated. Wow, cured in eight days. It must have worked though because he apologized, admitted his behavior was unacceptable and offered to perform eight hours of community service fellatio at Miami’s next pride event.
A Dallas daytime talk show host stormed off the set after a discussion of the kiss seen round the world. Ironically, her big beef was that it was all for publicity. Hence, I will not be using her name. (But, for a visual, think Elisabeth Hasseltwit with a slight southern accent.) I’m not sure if she received sensitivity training or not. Between all the “Bless your hearts” and “I do declares,” it would be hard to tell down there anyway.
Donald Trump said it was “too much.” Holy comb-over Batman, if Donald Trump finds something excessive.
But what about us? Sure, the homophobes get their training to be able to see two men kissing without becoming excited but we will need to learn how to deal with the fourth grade humor that surely awaits us when the 2014 NFL season kicks off. You know what I’m talking about, the juvenile jokes, maybe not necessarily mean, but wherein we are the punch line. After all, the man’s job will be to “blow by” a “tight end” and “sack” the quarterback all while playing for the Rams. Thank God he didn’t go to the Packers. Did you chuckle just now? You won’t after the seven millionth time you hear it.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I will need training to not slap people. Sophomoric jokes annoy me anyway. When my people are the butt of those jokes, it could get ugly. So, I am getting ready by creating my own sensitivity program. And, if you think you might need help too, welcome to Samophobia Sensitivity Training.
The fundamental basis of this training is getting the offender to recognize that his or her casual remarks are actually hurtful and could offend us. So, for example, when Michael Sam blasts through the line and tackles the quarterback with a few of his teammates and the guy in the seat next to you yells out a remark about Sam liking it on the bottom of the pile, simply point out that not all gay men are bottoms. Say: “Think of the logistics, Silly.” Then go into lengthy and graphic detail about the myriad of ways gay men have sex. The offender’s subsequent erection will be so pronounced he will have to excuse himself from the seat and you won’t have to hear anymore from him. It might not cure him, but does get rid of him in the moment so you can enjoy the game.
Should Michael miss a tackle and the lady in the seat next to you chides him to go cry in his boyfriend’s arms, simply point out to her that a man in touch with his feelings enough to not be afraid to cry is quite psychologically advanced. And, that you understand how she wouldn’t know since she’s not been with a man since 1974.
When you’re out in a bar and some guy boasts how, were he on the Rams team, he’d shower at home after practice. Tell him that you don’t blame him and you understand how difficult it must be to go through life with an excruciatingly small penis.
As you can see, empathy is the key here. Kindly, gently and lovingly showing others how hurtful words and tiresome jokes can feel. And, if it doesn’t seem to work, push them over the railing at the stadium.
Remember that this is a new program and, as with all new models there may need to be adjustments. But, we need to start somewhere. I will keep you posted if and when the curriculum changes.