ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m NOT Gay… but my brother was.

February 10th, 2014 at 3:09 pm by under Community, Health, News, Personalities, Politics, Sports, Uncategorized

Michael ROBERTS died in 1985… of AIDS. When he finally “came out of the closet” he went straight to a hospital bed. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ravaged his body. At peak health he stood six feet three, two hundred twenty five pounds. At death, I could’ve carried him in one arm while holding a stack of his lesson plans in the other. The only things that terrified this former middle school teacher -as much as the disease’s death sentence- were having to tell our parents he was ill- and why.

Michael also worried about another thing… the world finding out about his illness through the efforts of a persistent reporter. Consider the times: In ’85,  the average Joe and Jane  were terrified of being in the SAME ROOM with someone who was gay. Homosexual black males were at high risk of contracting AIDS and HIV, then. And, too many people thought they could “catch it” if an infected person just breathed on you.  So, a teacher, with AIDS, and charged with caring for 30 rambunctious kids all day? That would have been BREAKING NEWS. Thankfully, my big bro’s “story” never made the headlines.

Michael Sam_image Michael Sam -3 nfl_mortscheft_sam





Fast forward 30 years to 2014… another MICHAEL, (about the same SIZE as my brother) is proudly telling the world he is gay. Michael Sam  made an ANNOUNCEMENT on ESPN. My, My, My, how times have changed. SAM, a star defensive end at UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, thus could become the first openly gay  player in the NFL. Now, I’m as guilty as the next man of selective amnesia – my initial reaction to SAM’S interview with ESPN was- “Why do you have to make an announcement? Your sexual preferences are your business! Just do your talking on the field!” Up to this point, there are no “known” homosexual players in the NFL. Guys have said they suspect there are some on each team, but with hyper aggressive players like Ritchie Incognito running roughshod over locker rooms, it’s no surprise no one dares speak up.

KATIE COLLETT heard me thinking out loud this a-m and offered a timely perspective- that may or may not have been SAM’S’ thinking. She said she, too, has a gay relative. And that relative endured some stressful times due to lack of acceptance in the broader, heterosexual community. But, here’s where she hit the nail on the head. She said – maybe MICHAEL SAM “came out” so the next kid won’t have to… He, or she, can just “be.”

I immediately thought of the Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his roommate posted video of him in a sexual act with his male partner. Gay student Tyler Clementi _190-articleInline-v2

Tyler Clementi  told his parents he was gay, just days before heading off to college.

Michael SAM will soon be graduating, I imagine, with his head held high, and fully capable of “taking off” anyone else’s head who wants to give him some grief over being gay. Good luck in the draft, the locker room, the field, and life.

Michael ROBERTS hated football. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he looked down from the heavenly grandstand to applaud a good hit.

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4 Responses to “ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m NOT Gay… but my brother was.”

  1. Dawn Howie says:

    Why must people have the need to ‘come out’? I’m not sure I understand this concept. Can’t you just be proud of who you are and go on? There was a time that to ‘come out’ meant a death sentence, as Don stated. Arthur Ashe is an example, as well as Michael Roberts, apparently. Spoke their truth, and died a sad death…. Are we still doing this?? Can we be gay, straight, white, black, purple, or green….does it REALLY matter??? We are all God’s creatures, no matter…. God created us with lots of differences, lets just accept that. I think if we were just kind and accepted others and celebrated our differences, the world would be a mush nicer place. Think kindness, be kind…we could change the world!!!! Come on people, step up!

    1. Dawn Howie says:

      May I apologize to Arthur Ashe for my ignorance in thinking and saying he was gay. My point still stands, he stood against many for being a black athlete. Excuse me

  2. Pamela Sasser says:

    Thank you for sharing your brother and his story with us. But to be honest, society really hasn’t come that far where AIDS/HIV & being gay goes. AIDS is no longer “the gay mans disease”. One might be surprised the people living with this dreadful disease. And although, medically, they have made leaps&bounds, society still remains clueless to this disease. Almost like one must “go in the closet” and hide the fact they are dealing with this deadly disease, much like one deals with being gay. So, my hope is by this public figure coming out, that he will open doors not just for homosexuals, but for everyone living “in the closet” from the stigmas of society.
    Again, THANK YOU Don for bring this topic to the table. You very well may have just opened that closet door for some. God Bless you!!

  3. Beth Driscoll says:

    Thank you Don for a beautiful well written story about your brother. I long for the day when people don’t have to come out and say they are a gay athlete or a gay teacher but as Katie Collett said if their coming out helps the child who is still in the closet than let them come forward. Being the mother of a gay son I have watched society slowly start to come around but we have miles to go. I love my son not because he is gay but because he is my son.

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