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

187486895-michael-sam-of-the-missouri-tigers-celebrates-with-fans
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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 19 2014 1:10 PM Ascension Island: Home of Lava Fields, a False Forest, and the World's Worst Golf Course
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 3:07 PM Everything Is a "Women's Issue"
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.