Athlete Ally's Response to Michael Sam Coming Out as Gay

  • Feb 09, 2014

Photo by Marcus Qwertyus.  License available here

2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Comes Out as Gay.

Missouri’s Michael Sam Could Become the First Openly Gay NFL Player 

With the announcement that Michael Sam, the University of Missouri’s star defensive end, has made history by publicly coming out as the first high profile openly gay NFL prospect, Athlete Ally is confident that a new era of inclusion in football has arrived as the 2014 NFL Draft draws near. Sam is projected by experts as a high round draft pick.

“Michael has shown great courage in taking this step and not only do we support him, we are incredibly grateful. His decision to welcome us all into his world as he embarks upon a professional NFL career is an honorable one. This moment will resonate in a unique and important way for countless people, particularly LGBT youth,” said Super Bowl champion and human rights activist Brendon Ayanbadejo, who is a member of the Athlete Ally Board of Directors.

Hudson Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally said: “With Michael Sam’s brave step, he emboldens LGBT athletes and straight allies everywhere. We are in the midst of incredible transformation in American professional sports. In a very short period of time, athletics has gone from being known as ‘the last closet in America’ to being in a position to lead on this issue. This is the power of sports.”

"Having played Division I football as a closeted gay man, I recognize the game-changing potential here for athletes everywhere, " said Akil Patterson, Athlete Ally Youth Programs Director and former offensive lineman standout at the University of Maryland. "If Michael Sam can navigate this transition into the NFL as an out man of color, it will open doors for young people everywhere, particularly in football. More athletes will feel comfortable being true to themselves at a younger age and that will translate into better performance on the field and in the classroom. I think we have the capacity to go from one trailblazer to a large community of players within a surprisingly short period of time."

Brian Ellner, a leading LGBT advocate and Athlete Ally Board member said, “We expect the leadership at NFL teams around the country, and the league itself, to wholeheartedly embrace the change that is not only sweeping our nation in the form of law, but also defining our playing fields and culture. How Michael Sam is received on the professional level will go a long way in defining the NFL’s legacy.”

Sam was named the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year.