Carl Nassib, a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, made pro sports history Monday by revealing that he's gay. He's the first man in the NFL to come out as gay while being an active professional player.
This should be the biggest LGBT news during Pride Month, but it has already come and gone and most people have moved on. Nassib's announcement is neither driving debate nor controversy. Representatives from both his team and the NFL have publicly declared support for Nassib. The NFL announced that it would be matching Nassib's $100,000 donation to the Trevor Project, a hotline for LGBT teens in crisis. Several pro players and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr have publicly praised Nassib. New fans are happily buying his team jersey in droves.
It's a remarkably casual response that reflects the massive culture shift in favor of letting LGBT folks live their lives as they choose, just like their heterosexual counterparts. Back in 2014, Michael Sam made history as the first openly gay football player to be drafted into the NFL, but he didn't make it past preseason. The coverage of Sam back then was largely positive, but there were a few critics.
In 2021 there's so little animosity that lazy Twitter aggregators aren't even bothering to search for random homophobes saying bad things. The best folks are able to come up with was The View host Joy Behar making a dumb joke about "penetration" and the "end zone" that was hilarious when the Church Lady did it on Saturday Night Live back in 1987, six years before Nassib was even born.
It's also relevant that Nassib himself doesn't seem to be wanting to make it a massive media thing. Instead, he posted a short Instagram video and didn't arrange for any media interviews. The New York Times decided to characterize Nassib as an "everyman" and take note of his appearance on an HBO football reality show teaching financial literacy to Browns players. There just honestly wasn't a lot to say about Nassib himself.
"I actually hope one day that videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary," he says in his video, "but until then I'm going to do my best and do my part to cultivate a culture that's accepting and compassionate."
That this is such a non-issue is a good sign for a country that has rapidly come to embrace treating gay people as equal to everybody else under the law.