Michael Sam, the first-ever openly gay American footballer, told Attitude that he found acceptance hard to come by, not from the black community, but from the gay community.
“It’s terrible,” said Sam in an interview in Attitude’s ‘All-American’ May issue. “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 color of their skin? I just don’t understand that at all.”
The 26 year-old also stated that he never experienced judgement regarding his sexual orientation from the black community after coming out, despite what The Advocate calls “a lingering claim advanced by some that the African-American church, specifically, is virulently, unchangingly homophobic.”
“I can only go by my experience and the people I’ve been around. I think it’s more accepting, actually,” said former Montreal Alouettes defensive end Sam. “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.”
Sam also spoke of the impact coming out in 2014 had on his life. “I was so naive when I came out. I wasn’t thinking about anybody else trying to be an inspiration or advocate or activist, whatever, I wasn’t trying to be anything but just to get that over with so I could stop focusing on me.
“Then I started reading things that was going around, from people: emails, letters, Tweets, messages, everything – they were more positive than negative. ‘People said oh my god I just can’t believe you had the courage to do that’. I said, ‘I’m just living my life’.”
Attitude is out now.