Michael Sam

Michael Sam (Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images / May 13, 2014)

On the ride home from my cousin's graduation last week, I showed some relatives a photo of a guy I think is kind of hot -- Michael Sam. I explained that he was the first openly gay player to enter the NFL, anticipating some shocked reactions. Here's what I wasn't expecting to hear: "What a waste," "He's gonna burn in the fires of hell with all the rest of them" and "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

Maybe it's because as a recording artist, I surround myself with hella-liberal folks, but most of the people in my life are pretty accepting of the fact that sometimes dudes love other dudes. But for every person with a "to each his own" attitude, there is another one out there using their holy book to justify their biases. That pisses me off. And as soon as I climb way up on my high horse to defend equality for all, something quasi-scandalous happens, like the Michael Sam televised kiss or the Michael Sam reality TV show or the Michael Sam glow-in-the-dark scented underwear. OK, the scented underwear aren't a real thing ... yet.

Yet in spite of the fact I am going to incur the wrath of the Michael Sam fans by saying this, I was glad when the OWN Network announced this his reality show had been postponed. It's just another example of someone being singled out for being gay. It's tough to make the argument that Sam's presence in the NFL is a huge step for equal rights when his love life is being exploited with the same ferocity as a celebrity wedding.

Is it a big deal that a door has finally been opened for gay football players? Yes. Oppression for one group of people means oppression for us all; ain't nobody got time for that. But being a gay guy is not what earned Sam his accolades -- being an exceptionally gifted athlete did. And anything that distracts from that fact actually hurts his chances of success.

There's nothing I can say that will stop homophobic individuals who use the Bible to justify sipping on haterade,  believing that gay people are the devil. If anybody wonders why so many folks are turning away from religion these days, this is it: If religion means intolerance, separatism and self-righteousness, you can count me out. I'm sorry, but I don't wanna go to heaven with all the judgy people.

One day, a person's sexual orientation will not be headline news. And when that day comes, future generations will look back at 2014 and think of us the way we remember those who fought against equal rights for blacks and women. Hopefully I'll see it in my lifetime. But what I said to my family that day in the car was true: If I happen to have a gay kid some day, I hope everyone will be able to love and accept them for who they are inside. Because whoever doesn't will truly bring out the devil in me.

 

Nikki Lynette is a RedEye special contributor.