Today I returned home from a bachelor party weekend in New Hampshire where there was no two-ply toilet paper for MILES, so I was planning on using today as a re-coop day before re-entering society tomorrow, but when there's news that I deem historically significant (second straight blog with the phrase), it's time to pause AppleTV+ (I just started the new Rose Byrne show "Physical" and so far I'm digging tf out of it) and get to blogging.
From all the rainbow corporate logos and DOL songs of the day, I'm sure you're aware that it's Pride Month. Well, Las Vegas Raiders DE Carl Nassib just made LGBTQ+ history by becoming the first active openly gay player in the NFL with this announcement on his Instagram:
The 2016 3rd round pick out of Penn St has played for the Browns and Buccaneers before signing with the Raiders last offseason.
With only 20.5 career sacks he's by no means a superstar, but if you're a fan of Hard Knocks you likely remember this clip from 2018. HBO needs to grow up and release the uncensored version; all the bleeps every second make it sound horrible. It's almost as egregious censoring the "God Damn" in Rex Ryan's infamous god damn snack speech.
I'm glad that we're at a point in society where a lot of people can say, "who cares?" because they don't see this story as a big deal just because they don't think they're homophobic, but this is a huge deal and monumental moment for LGBTQ+ people. People may be more accepting, but clearly not enough. Much like racial issues, are things better than they were in the 1960s? Yes, but they're still not where they should be. Obviously, this was dramatized for TV, but there's probably two Mickey Milkovich's dad-like reactions for every happy coming out story. (I'm only in the 7th season no spoilers please; although I do know that Mickey and Ian get married at some point)
It took until the third decade of the new millennium for this to happen. As Carl said in his post, LGBTQ+ youth are 5x more likely to consider suicide. Representation matters. I used to never really understand that since there are tons of fat, funny white dudes killing it in a variety of roles before their rolls eventually kill them. I never realized it was an issue, but now I see the importance for all. Like three or four years ago, I thought the whole pronouns thing was kind of stupid, but it was mainly because of my ignorance. If throwing a "he/him" in my bio can make things a little bit easier for people already having a tough time getting a fair shake in life, I'm going to do it without hesitation.
Now the likely thousands of gay football players in high school, college, and the NFL have someone to look at and say, "if he can do it, so can I," and know that they're not alone. Undoubtedly his presence, just existing as an openly gay professional athlete, will help save at least one life, and isn't that already a more significant win than anything the Raiders will accomplish this year? It'd be awesome to see Carl's bravery set off a domino of closeted athletes in all sports to come out.
As society progresses, it's important to remember to be a halfway decent person with empathy and acceptance. I'm sure some people who never heard the name Carl Nassib before today now hate him, and that both blows my mind and breaks my heart. There's no place for hating someone because of who they love. Pride month exists because LGBTQ+ people used to have to hide their true identity and risk literally everything to be themselves. There were millions of Salvatore Romanos in the '50s and '60s. If you have Hulu, I highly suggest the FX Pride docuseries.
If you're thinking, "what about Michael Sam?" this is a much different situation. Michael Sam was the first openly gay man to be drafted in the NFL when he was selected by the then St. Louis Rams in the 7th round of the 2014 draft, but he never appeared in a regular-season game. Assuming Carl Nassib doesn't get injured or blackballed by the league for simply being himself, he'll become the first openly gay man to play in the NFL. Just like the Rooney Rule, I hope someday there isn't a need for this practice to exist, but for now, it's a landmark day in not just sports but American history. Congratulations, Carl, for being authentically you. Whether it be with one or 1000 gentlemen, may 1000 bussies bloom for you.