Myrtle Beach LGBTQ columnist weighs in on the Michael Sam kiss

For Weekly SurgeMay 21, 2014 

Are you still feeling the repercussions from the kiss heard round the world?

To be accurate, I suppose it was seen around the world as opposed to heard, but once Michael Sam’s name was called in the NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams and he decided to celebrate by kissing his beloved Vito Cammisano, a brand new door opened in the world of LGBTQ equality. This transformation occurred slightly more than a year after NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay. Some local LGBTQ columnist predicted in May of last year that the Collins story could very well be the catalyst that led to this event but there’s no need to get into that. Being right isn’t everything.

There was something different about this coming out story and that difference is the source of the ensuing counterattacks. Sam wasn’t simply stating he’s gay on national television; he was being gay on national television. That small difference tends to be the point where people really have to pick a side. As soon as I saw the kiss, I realized that it was going to give those assholes at FOX News about two weeks’ worth of fresh material to ramp up their never-ending attacks on the gay community.

After the initial surprise subsided, I also thought how natural and unadulterated the celebration was for two people who love each other. Let’s face it, if I signed a deal with CNN tomorrow, my first show would consist entirely of me making out with Anderson Cooper while Chris Cuomo watched nervously from the guest seat. Propriety aside, you have to admit that the Sam-Cammisano mackfest covered more demographics in one microcosmic moment than an opinion poll on the Huffington Post. Sexuality, sports, race, politics and family values all intersected to blow up and create the ultimate distraction.

Reaction was varied but it is important to be realistic and acknowledge that it did not receive overwhelming support. A YouGov poll showed that while 60 percent of Americans approved of the idea of their favorite sports team signing an openly gay star (for NFL fans, 65 percent approved), 47 percent said it was “inappropriate” for networks to show the kiss; only 36 percent said it was “appropriate.” And 17 percent said they weren’t sure. I think I know who the 17 percenters are in this poll. I won’t call them out personally - let’s just say that I think I have seen them in the steam room at the YMCA.

To break it down by political leanings, Democrats thought the kiss was appropriate to show - 53 percent to 32 percent. However, both Independents (45 percent to 36 percent) and Republicans (69 percent to 16 percent) felt that it was inappropriate. Along age lines, those younger than 30 approved with a 55 percent to 29 percent margin. Those between ages 30 and 44 were evenly divided. Some 52 percent of those between ages 45 and 64, and 69 percent of those 65 and older, found it inappropriate. BFD, right?

While talking heads, pollsters and random homophobic athletes weighed in on this matter, something much more momentous was happening in the nation. Marriage equality was taking a big step forward in two very red states. Both Idaho and Arkansas saw their same-sex marriage bans struck down by federal judges - and right before press time, Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban was also overturned. Arkansas, as you probably remember, is the home state of habitually rejected presidential wannabe and itinerant preacher Mike Huckabee. That made the Arkansas ruling by Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza all the more delightful.

As of Monday, both rulings had been put on hold to allow the great legal minds to strategize, but not before nearly 500 couples were issued marriage licenses in Arkansas. Given the options on the table, I would wager that Huckabee would much rather deal with one kiss on television than the hundreds and potentially thousands that will likely be taking place in his state before long. There’s nothing quite like the passionate kiss at the end of a same-sex wedding ceremony to convince every conservative that society has officially ended and some sort of Armageddon or rapture event is imminent.

While waiting for news about any legal developments in the Idaho and Arkansas marriage wins, something very wonderful happened. Almost as if to punctuate the events of the last couple of weeks, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane struck down Oregon’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage and declared it unconstitutional. Get ready South Carolina, our day is coming.

Out & About

Saturday, May 24 - Prime Timers Myrtle Beach will host a day trip to visit the USS North Carolina at Wilmington, N.C. The group will meet at the Pilot House Restaurant at 2 Ann St. in Wilmington at 11:30 a.m. for lunch and then drive over to the USS NC Park.

Friday, June 6 - First Friday Happy Hour, the Takeover Grand Strand Event, meets at the Courtyard by Marriott from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. The location is 1351 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach .

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