Sorry haters, Jason Collins and Michael Sam coming out matters

Of all the irritating reactions to a public figure coming out, the most frustrating for me is, “If you wanna be gay, be gay, but stop telling us about it.”

People often make the mistake of assuming their opinion on a given issue applies to the majority. This is a self-involved way to look at things and unless you’re Mariah Carey, you don’t get to live on your private planet.

Besides, more often than not, a person who echoes that sentiment is being cowardly about the way they really feel.

Personally, I like people who give it to me straight, no chaser. Like, “You and your affliction will result in you spending all of eternity being roasted over Satan’s fireplace in Prince’s ass-less pants.” I may not agree with the assertion, but I can appreciate its forthrightness. That is not the case with the sect that just loves to say in protest to every coming out story, “NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR SEXUALITY!”

One can’t help but think anyone who argues this is wallowing in their own stupidity. Honestly, anyone with a basic understanding of where we are in this country in terms of gay rights should be able to understand why these revelations continue to matter. But if you truly are dead set on pretending to not know why public figures – and in this case, athletes specifically, coming out is a big deal – I’m going to play along.

With respect to Jason Collins, he is the first openly gay NBA player ever – and he’s presently playing on a 10-day contract. Likewise, Michael Sam is making a lot of headlines for potentially becoming the first openly gay NFL player, but he has yet to be drafted and already, he’s reportedly dropped 70 spots in the draft the day after his announcement. But you know, as the foolish say, it’s so “cool to be gay now.”

Both Collins and Sam directly challenge the stereotype that all gay men are effeminate and have no credible place in the hyper-masculine world of professional sports. Furthermore, the two openly gay athletes in professional sports will help defuse the myth that LGBT people are constantly walking around aroused, just waiting to prove some cocky straight man right about everyone on the planet desiring him.

As black men, Collins, Sam, and even WWE Wrestler Darren Young, are adding nuance to the often one-note depiction of African-American gay men in our culture.

These men will inspire others like them to come out and be themselves. Their significance should not be discounted over a few feigning indifference about sexual orientation – especially with the casual and not so casual homophobia pouring out in the wake of their respective revelations.

Just this week, my eyes nearly fell of their sockets after reading an essay entitled “Michael Sam And The Attack On Heterosexuality In Pro Sports.”

J.R. Gamble writes: “Collins is actually playing in the NBA today because he is gay and possibly taking jobs away from heterosexual males who may be fringe players but don’t have that extra ‘gay’ trait which elevates normal men to icons now.

Replace “gay” with black and “heterosexual males” with “white dudes” and laugh at this black man’s grandiose display of tragic irony.

Then there is Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman, who on Monday said he is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from joining the National Football League.

In a statement, Burkman writes: “We are losing our decency as a nation. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

This country was stolen from its original inhabits and built on the backs of African slaves, but a gay dude showering with his teammates is stripping America of its “decency.”

These are only a few examples, but there others are readily available (ask Arizona, Idaho and Kansas). Progress has been made, but marriage equality in a few states alone is not enough. We have to be able to be ourselves on the field and on the stage and everywhere else without fear.

We’re not there yet, hence why people come out and why they’ll continue to.

If you “don’t care,” congratulations…but quit pretending it doesn’t matter.

Michael Arceneaux is from the land of Beyoncé, but now lives in the city of Master Splinters. Follow him at @youngsinick.