Ritch Savin-Williams, professor of human development at Cornell University and author of “The New Gay Teenager” – and a former University of Missouri student – comments on Tigers’ football player Michael Sam’s decision to open-up about his sexual orientation – and what the announcement means for gay youth.
“What is holding back the human rights movement is more based on age and generation than geography or politics. Support among youth of all political and religious persuasions is dramatically increasing with every year of polling data.
“It is not surprising that ‘older team executives’ might fear – for political, religious, cultural or financial concerns – having an openly gay football player more so than teammates, who represent a tolerant cohort in which diversity of sexuality is acceptable and normalized. The younger generation, including Mr. Sam’s football teammates, has a difficult time understanding and having patience with the representatives of an era of repression and bias. “Mr. Sam attended the University of Missouri – where I did my undergraduate degree work ¬– which is not a hotbed of liberalism or progressive politics, and played in a sport that is known to be rather conservative. Yet, he came out a year ago to his teammates, was voted Most Valuable Player, was extremely popular, and it's very likely that many who saw him play knew of his sexuality, at least the students, and it seemed to matter little to them. “History is on the side of the youth, even if they are football players.”
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