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    Standing Up, Standing Out

    Standing Up, Standing Out
    by Drew Pelto, AKA *censored*

    I always liked Carl Nassib as a player. In a sport of mountains of men, even he stood out at 6'7" 275 while running a 4.8 in the 40. He went from a walk-on bit player for two years in college to leading the nation in sacks as a senior and winning four major awards.

    My Browns took him in the third round of the 2016 Draft and while he didn't pan out to what we hoped, well, who really did on the team in those years? It was disappointing to see the team waive him in 2018, but with a lot of my fellow Browns fans, when you play for our team, you're one of us for life. So it's been good to see he still has a role in the NFL now as a rotational defensive end.

    I was absolutely geeked to pull this from a pack a week after the 2016 NFL Draft.
    And just as much so to find today that I hadn't traded it away in five years.

    His admission this week that put himself out as the only openly gay player in the National Football League certainly came as a surprise, but a positive one. It's an action that takes courage.

    I have always considered myself a supporter of the LGBTQA+ community. I grew up in the Unitarian Universalist church. We were the first to approve the blessing of same-sex unions, dating back to the Association's 1984 General Assembly, and have championed equal rights for that community since the 1970s. So I knew many openly gay and lesbian people all throughout my formative years.

    The detractors are right on one thing: exposure to the LGBTQA+ community certainly does affect children.

    It makes kids realize that those people are people too, just like them. They are mothers, fathers, siblings, sons, daughters, our family, our friends, and are in all walks of life. Many professions, many hobbies, many interests. And it makes someone coming of age who might be struggling with their own attractions realize that they aren't alone.

    In my high school years, I often was babysitter for a lesbian couple's three children. My closest male friend in every level of school from pre-kindergarten through college has later come out as gay, including the future best man at my wedding. I had friends in my high school and college years who eventually came out as trans-- one male-to-female, and one female-to-male.

    Having gay and lesbian friends, family, and role models didn't lead me down some road of immorality. It didn't turn me gay or trans myself. All it did was give me the perspective that they have the right to live their life any way they feel is right as long as it doesn't harm anyone else: just as much as I do.

    After ten years of marriage, my wife opened up to me and to many others in our life that after spending her whole life closeted that she is bisexual. In the following years, she has become much more open with who she is and who she has been her whole life. She is much happier. We have had a polyamorous relationship with an incredible woman for the last two years and I love them both dearly.

    And yet, there are still people who have played important roles in her life who would rather cut her off than accept her for who she is. I wish instead that they all could have had the reaction that her mother had: "Okay, that's great; hey, what do you want for dinner tonight?" Frankly, I hope everyone in a similar situation receives that sort of a response.
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    The world is improving for people with orientations that differ from the majority. But I've seen first-hand that it's still not easy. And it likely won't ever be easy in my lifetime.

    So you have my highest respect, Carl Nassib. And frankly I like you more now than when you were with my team.

    In the world of professional men's sports where homosexuality is still viewed as a gigantic stigma, it takes a lot of courage to open up and admit who you are. It's hard to keep hidden; but it's harder to open up. And as Carl said in his video, representation and visibility are important.

    Hopefully this is another step toward a human existence where these stories are no longer big news, but rather just viewed as some ordinary, everyday piece of who we are.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Drew Pelto is a writer, podcaster, musician, and card collector in North Texas. He is a Cory Snyder Supercollector, though this man-crush is of the asexual variety.
    Last edited by *censored*; 06-21-2021 at 11:49 PM. Reason: Text formatting

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