Michael Sam’s Dad “Shocked” When Son Came Out to Him But Responded Exactly Like a Father Should

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 10 2014 5:16 PM

Michael Sam’s Dad “Shocked” When Son Came Out to Him But Responded Exactly Like a Father Should

Michael Sam #52 of the Missouri Tigers celebrates with fans after the game against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Over the weekend, Missouri defensive lineman, Michael Sam, told the world what many already knew: He’s gay. The All-American, in fact, came out to his team before his senior season. While Sam’s recent public announcement caught the country by surprise, his sexuality was apparently pretty widely known on campus. “Sam’s sexuality has been something like an open secret for months. He came out to his teammates before last season started. Many of his friends and peers at Mizzou knew,” the Kansas City Star reports. “Several local media outlets, including The Star, knew about this and honored his right to decide when and if to talk about it publicly.”

One person, however, who didn’t know was Sam’s father. Sam’s dad told NBC News that his son came out to him on his birthday last week first via text message. Here’s how the conversation between Sam and his dad, also named Michael Sam, went, according to NBC News.

"I told him, 'Well, you could have wished me a happy birthday first,'" the dad, who has the same name, joked to NBC News from the Texas nursing home where he lives. While he was surprised to hear the news, he fully supports the University of Missouri defensive lineman's decision to come out. "I was shocked because I didn't see it," the father said. "I mean, you see your kids, but you don't suspect that." "He sent me a text first," he recalled. What did it say? "I'm gay."
Then came the phone call a little later in the evening.
"I said was he sure, and he said he was," the 55-year-old disabled truck driver said. The two men talked about the athlete's decision to tell the world about his sexuality. “I asked him about his career and everything, and he said he was just going to do it," the father said. "And I said, OK then. He's in control and he's grown. No matter what, he's my son and I still love him."

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.



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