As the son of an inter-racial couple, I’ve often wondered how parents like my Nigerian father and Irish-American mother would have fared if they met in the 1960s instead of the 1970s. Would they have faced discrimination from their peers, or been told that they weren’t equal in the eyes of the law? Would they have faced the stares of strangers who felt their relationship just wasn’t right, whatever “right” is? Would they have faced the hate—the derogatory names or violence that hurt many courageous people who came before them?
Today, LGBT individuals in our country experience far too often the same looks, animosity, and violence, and in many places without the same legal rights and opportunities of their peers. Enemies of LGBT equality think being gay isn’t natural, and that gay people should mask their true selves or live in the shadows because others “don’t want to see it.”
That’s why a new music video, released today by six-piece chamber rock band Great Caesar, is so inspiring. It’s a moving, courageous video for the song “Don’t Ask Me Why,” that draws parallels between the fight for racial equality and today’s struggle for LGBT rights. I was proud to support the band when they were raising money to make the video and I am even more proud to see the outstanding finished product.
The relationship we see between McGill and Marie — a young, inter-racial couple in the video — is no different from the relationship between my parents. And my parents’ relationship is no different from the relationship between two LGBT individuals. This video captures these similarities.
I’m an advocate for LGBT individuals because I believe they face the same dilemma many interracial couples faced in the 1960s and before. Today, many LGBT couples are discriminated against for simply being who they are. Some are kicked out of their houses; some are forced to live in fear due to societal pressures.
Thanks to allies like Great Caesar and other individuals and organizations, things are getting better for the LGBT community. But there is still work to be done. There are corners of American culture that seem to be stuck in the 1960’s, however I am optimistic that we are turning the corner with regards to our nation’s view of the LGBT community. Over the past few years, personally, I’ve had great conversations with many people across this country about LGBT equality, including my former teammates in the NFL, and have publicly advocated with others in two Maryland equality campaigns. And there are trailblazers like Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers, and organizations like Athlete Ally, that are working to make our sports culture more inclusive.
Sports have always transcended cultural boundaries, bringing together hardworking, motivated individuals and enthusiastic fans from across the globe to enjoy a good game and good sportsmanship. Which is why it’s so important that we, as athletes, work to address the homophobia we see across the world. From the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where the law bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” to Nigeria, where a man was lashed repeatedly for belonging to a gay rights organization, our brothers and sisters across the globe are fighting daily for their right to love and their right to live.
When we’re confronted with something that contradicts our norm, some people struggle with how to react. In the worst cases, they spew hate—using derogatory names to denigrate others while elevating their sense of self and their views of society. And, as this video captures, some resort to violence. They hurt people because of their own hate. I am so proud of the band Great Caesar for their bravery and courage in tackling such an important issue. Change moves slowly, but with strong allies like these, I’m hopeful for our future.