Often when one is asked for an opinion on something they simply go with the flow without thinking through their actions. America may have done something similar recently.
When freshly drafted NFL player Michael Sam came out publicly in February, he received mostly positive response. While a few people did hate on him and some others questioned why it was necessary for him to announce his sexual orientation the way he did, these reactions were few and far between.
However, all that changed through a public display of affection last Sunday. When Sam found out that the St. Louis Rams have drafted him with their 249th overall pick, he immediately turned to his boyfriend Vito Cammisano and planted a huge, passionate smooch on him in full view of the cameras.
It turns out that America still isn't progressive enough to digest the sight of a known sportsman locking lips with another male at a major event. Those who had chosen to stay silent the first go-round, truly erupted this time , filling the Twitterverse with tweets like:
All this Michael Sam stuff is so annoying they shove it down our throats, and if we dont like it or accept it we are homophobic ??— AintUJerry (@JerryNgobi) May 13, 2014
TIM TEBOW GOT CRITICIZED FOR BEIN ALL ABOUT GOD BUT MICHAEL SAM IS A HERO FOR BEIN GAY, THE END IS NEAR— ROSE GOLD JESUS (@SHAWNHINDRIIX) May 12, 2014
Former Ole Miss basketball star Marshall Henderson's initial reaction was interesting:
Boycotting sportscenter til this michael sam nasty ass shit is off .... My brothers are 7 and 11 and saw that!!! #SICKENING— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
The stick he got for that comment forced him to backtrack and change his story completely. He claimed he deliberately passed those derogatory comments to gauge people's response for a research project.
One of my best friends, WHO IS GAY, is about to graduate in psychology, asked me to say these things so he can have responses ... TBC— marshall henderson (@NativeFlash22) May 12, 2014
The question remains, why did the situation become so irresistible for all of these people to react to? They remained passive when Sam came out, so why the fuss over a kiss and some affection. After all, loving a same-sex person is what homosexuality is all about.
When they kept their mum back in February, it was assumed that most people are fine with Sam's lifestyle choice. It turns out that they are not comfortable with it. Seeing an act of conventional PDA (Public Displays of Affection) on national TV would have been fine, but to see two men displaying it brought back all the negativity that people still harbor but don't like to admit out loud due to the fear of backlash.
On social networks like Twitter and Facebook – where identities can be easily assigned to comments – opposition is still mellow. To observe the full force of netizens' anti-homosexual sentiments one needs to check more anonymous forums like YouTube and private chat groups.
So while some like to believe that acceptance for the LGBT community has come a long way in the past few years, it really hasn't. At least not to the extent propagated. The more mainstream the platform becomes the more filtered and rare these type of views get, but on micro level the society is still very narrow-minded.
The hate for an alternative lifestyle is merely suppressed and could explode in a big way. These opinions need to be addressed to change mindsets rather than just sweeping them under the rug.