Update, Nov. 7, 11amPT: Deion Sanders tweeted with me and others on gays & God
Deion Sanders, NFL Hall of Fame cornerback, sat down with Larry King and talked about a multitude of issues, including Michael Sam and homosexuality. Deion talked about his gay cousin, whom he's known was gay since they were kids. He also talked about reaching out to Sam to offer his support. He's said in the past, very matter-of-fact, that there was a gay player on every team he's played on. He was a hit on Oxygen several years ago with one of his gay pals.
I don't think Deion would treat a gay athlete or a gay person badly. Like he said, he has a cousin who is gay and he's known for decades.
Behind that fair treatment seems to be a man conflicted between gays and God, whom he knows now and what he's been taught about Christianity for years.
When King asked Deion about Michael Sam, he shared this...
Deion Sanders: I'm not saying I condone it, but I don't condemn it. I don't love what he do but I love him as a man. And I just wanted him to understand the burden and the weight he's carrying.
Larry King: You don't think it's a choice though, do you?
Deion: [Pause] It could be.
King: I don't know why, who would choose it?
Deion: Who wouldn't?
King: Oh well
Deion: Well, we can get into saying God did this and God did that. The God I know don't make mistakes.
So Deion thinks that homosexuality is a choice that everyone would choose, and the reason it must be a choice is because his God doesn't make mistakes. I wonder if he's considered the possibility that being gay isn't a mistake.
When talking about Sam, why doesn't Deion "love what he do?" He says he doesn't condemn it, but then he turns right around and condemns it.
This is the constant struggle the LGBT community has with devout conservative Christianity: people hiding behind religion, saying they "love the person" but then condemning them (whether they want to admit it or not) in the same breath.
Deion's comments also reflect the disconnect I think a lot of LGBT athletes face in locker rooms dominated by Christians. Those athletes very well may feel like they would not be accepted because of all of the Christian talk about God and Jesus, including people like Deion saying they don't love the idea of gay sex. Yet most Christians like Deion would still embrace a gay teammate, particularly if he contributed to the team.
To Deion I would say this. I didn't choose to be gay. I just didn't. Whether I was born this way, or whether I somehow became gay over time, I never chose this. I have always tried to listen to myself, to what was truly inside of me. To who I was. I didn't for a while - and I was living a lie. I knew I was. Now I am who I am. And I just didn't choose this.
Hopefully Deion will continue to open his heart and mind and learn. Not everything he's been taught about people who aren't like him is gospel.
Deion Sander's full episode goes live Monday, November 10th at 5pm EST/2pm PST on www.ora.tv/larrykingnow.