There we were, enjoying dinner at a sports-themed restaurant on May 10. My 12- and 15-year-old sons watched the ongoing National Football League draft on television on the huge television screens. Now, I don't have the football gene no matter how many times the game is explained to me, and my brain usually shuts down when sports news comes on. But suddenly my eyes were glued to the screen. Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted to the NFL. Our food arrived, a "cool" was uttered by one of my kids, and we started to eat.
Next thing we knew, we saw Sam kiss his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano. Now, many families don't expect to see a big gay kiss on TV during dinner — let alone more than one, including Sam kissing Cammisano's face covered in celebratory cake. But to my kids it was no big deal.
We live in one of the most LGBTQ populated neighborhoods in Chicago. We have family members, friends and neighbors who are gay and lesbian, and my kids have known this since they were very young. When I asked my 12-year-old what he thought when he saw Michael Sam kiss his boyfriend, he replied, "I think it's good that there is an openly gay player in the NFL that got drafted. His sexuality doesn't matter."
While my husband and I raise our kids in an incredibly inclusive community, I know that other parents may take issue with Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on national television. Even some of Sam's fellow NFL players expressed their negative feelings on social media.
Moms and dads may have strong feelings one way or the other about Sam's very public display of affection. I think this is the simplest explanation parents can give their kids.
Most of the adults you know who love each other are men and women. There are also men who love men and women who love women. And that's OK.
My husband commented about the kiss seen around the world. "They didn't see a 'guy kissing a guy,' they saw a person very happy to be drafted to the NFL kissing the person he loves."
As I mentioned, I'm not a big sports fan, but I understand the magnitude of Michael Sam being the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL. He has made history, but at the end of the day, he's simply another new guy, according to my 15-year-old. "He's just a football player and has to prove himself just like any other rookie," he says. "And really, I just wanted some of that cake."
Bottom line? My kids don't care about Sam's kiss. Or any gay kiss. If they catch Mom and Dad kissing, though? They'll definitely say, "EWWW."
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