Michael Sam Introduces Themes of Diversity

Michael+Sam+spoke+to+students+about+diversity+as+the+first+openly+gay+football+player+in+the+National+Football+League.+%28Julia+Comerford%2FThe+Fordham+Ram%29
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Michael Sam Introduces Themes of Diversity

Michael Sam spoke to students about diversity as the first openly gay football player in the National Football League. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

Michael Sam spoke to students about diversity as the first openly gay football player in the National Football League. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

Michael Sam spoke to students about diversity as the first openly gay football player in the National Football League. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

Michael Sam spoke to students about diversity as the first openly gay football player in the National Football League. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

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Michael Sam spoke to students about diversity as the first openly gay football player in the National Football League. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

Michael Sam spoke to students about diversity as the first openly gay football player in the National Football League. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

By Theresa Schliep and Andrea Garcia 

In an effort to promote diversity at the university and uniting the community, Campus Activities Board (CAB) hosted Michael Sam as part of their Diversity Month.

Sam is a defensive end who played college football at the University of Missouri. Sam was drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 draft by the St. Louis Rams.

Sam is the first openly LGBTQ player in the National Football League. He spoke about how his choice to come out liberated him and allowed him to finally be himself.

“It was the first time in my life I felt that I was Michael Sam,” said Sam. “I finally felt free.”

Sam spoke about his struggles with his family life and with bullies. Sam witnessed one of his brothers die from a gunshot wound and another brother has been missing since 1998. His parents separated in his youth.

Sam said he hated bullies because his brothers bullied him. He had thought his siblings would be there to lead and protect him.

“If anyone knows any bullies, tell me who they are,” said Sam.

Sam struggled with his sexual identity in high school. Sam attended the University of Missouri on a football scholarship, and made headlines when he publicly came out as gay.

He said he did not have anyone to confide in about his sexuality, but he was encouraged to speak out for those who did not have a medium to do so.

“I was going to be the voice for those who didn’t have a voice for themselves,” said Sam.

In one instance, Sam said a teammate asked him if he could talk to a relative because she was being bullied. Sam said his story gave her inspiration to push against the bullies.
Stephen Esposito, FCRH ’17, president of CAB, said the event was especially important in light of the election.

“We were so fortunate to have such an inspiring person such as Michael Sam come speak during this time of divisiveness in our country and particularly on campus,” said Esposito.

“I hope that this discussion with Sam was uplifting and empowering for all that attended.”

Emily Oliver, FCRH ’17, part of the American Age Lecture Series Committee said Sam embraced the purpose of Diversity Month.

“Having Michael Sam as our Diversity Month speaker was truly amazing,” said Oliver. “He fully embraces himself and spreads a message of love and acceptance.”

Maxson Thomas, FCRH ’17 , said Sam provided a beneficial perspective on diversity.

“He spoke about overcoming adversity throughout his life due to his race and sexual identity, specifically in the world of professional sports.”

The American Lecture Series, a committee on the election board, organized the event. Sam no longer plays in the NFL, but currently has a contract with the Canadian Football League team, the Montreal Alouettes.