On the Wednesday morning edition of 105.3 The Fan’s New School, I got to do my favorite type of radio: personal, different, sensitive, uncomfortable, interactive and most of all, honest- all because of Michael Sam Sr.
“Michael Sam Sr. was at a Denny’s near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message. Dad, I’m gay, he wrote. The party stopped cold. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebees to have drinks,” Sam Sr. said. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment. “I’m old school,” he added. “I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity. On Sunday night, just after Michael Sam announced his intention to make sports history, his father was still struggling with the news. Sam Sr. loves his son, and he said he hoped his son made it to the NFL. “As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross,” he said. “This is just one he has to cross.” But he expressed discomfort at the very idea of a gay NFL player, even if the player was his son. He grumbled that Deacon Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end renowned for his toughness, “is turning over in his grave.”
After being ROCKED by these comments, my mind began to race.
How could a son deliver that type of news to his father, through a text message, ON HIS BIRTHDAY?! What does that say about the type of relationship they may have had? You’d rather have one son lose his virginity in Mexico than the other be gay? When is Denny’s going to start serving alcohol?
As a talk show host who lives off strong opinions, I respected the honesty of Michael Sam Sr. in sharing his “old-skool” reaction, as supportive and unpopular as it may be. While not agreeing with everything he said, I UNDERSTOOD where he was coming from and that led to the ultimate question that took over the final hour of our Wednesday show…
Am I a hypocrite?
If my immediate reaction to Michael Sam’s announcement was “It doesn’t bother me at all, good for him,” how could I find myself understanding the sickness his father felt when his namesake rocked the sports world?
Here’s the statement I delivered on air that lit up the Fan texts and phone lines: “I can’t truly know how I’d react if this was my son because I don’t have children. BUT, if given a choice or preference, I’d want my son to be straight rather than gay. I wouldn’t disown or ignore him if he came out, I’d just rather him date girls vs guys.”
I immediately received a Fan text that stuck in my head the rest of the morning:
Text: 09:28 AM
“Wow Shaun. Just wow. You have completely changed how I listen to this show. Heaven help your kid if that comes about. Just wow.
You don’t mind gay people BUT if it’s your own kid/family member then you have an issue. So basically you’re a homophobe. At least the entire metroplex knows that now.”
I went home and skipped the usual nap because of that message. I never worried about proving I wasn’t homophobic to this listener. There was no need.
I support same-sex marriage. I had many fraternity brothers who were gay. I knowingly moved in with a roommate who I knew was a homosexual. My college (American University) was nicknamed “Gay-U.” Hell, I’m obsessed with reality shows on BRAVO. If you want to believe I’m anti-gay, go right ahead. I’m not going to waste any more time convincing you. It won’t keep me up at night.
What kept me awake Wednesday afternoon wasn’t homophobia, it was hypocrisy. How could I support and endorse Michael Sam’s historical announcement, yet secretly wish I would never hear the same words out of my son’s mouth?
That’s when the magical word finally hit me…preference.
I’d PREFER a ribeye over tofu.
I’d PREFER a girl with curves over a stick figure.
I’d PREFER a trip to the Bahamas over Pakistan (Keep your brown jokes outta this!)
And yes, I’d PREFER my son be straight rather than gay.
Does that make me ignorant, hypocritical, pre-historic and offensive? I don’t believe so. I just think it makes me honest. If I asked you to take this survey, how would you fill it out?
Circle the sexual preference for your son:
C. Really couldn’t care less, as long as he’s happy
If you chose option C, you’re a better person than me.
Will I have ultimate control over these decisions? Of course not, ESPECIALLY when I don’t believe sexuality is a choice. But does that mean I can’t have a preference for the decisions and choices my child will one day face? Do I have to erase and reprogram every circumstance and atmosphere I’ve ever known? That seems silly, and impossible.
Before I forget, I need to mention that as a parent, I think this topic is MUCH different and easier for women.
Almost every female friend I have would happily circle C in that survey. My guy friends? Not so much.
I obviously can’t speak from experience and this is just my opinion, but it seems the scrutiny homosexual males deal with is much crueler and viscous than what females face. Just look at the pro sports comparison: With the exception of Brittney Griner, lesbian rumors in the WNBA are as frequent as 8-8 Cowboys seasons. But ONE unknown male football player from Missouri? The entire world stops for AN HISTORICAL, GROUNDBREAKING EVENT!
Just to reiterate, I have no intentions of disowning my future child if he one day sends that Michael Sam-esque text.
There will be no financial cut-off or years of silent treatment. But I’m not going to lie and feed you the “as long as he’s happy” line.
I think my immediate reaction would be a mix of stunned, shaken, confused and embarrassed. I’d be worried to death about the teasing and mocking he would have to endure for God-knows how long. I think I’d share many of the same sick feelings as Michael Sam Sr.
I think I’d find that Applebees.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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