As Michael Sam was preparing for this week's episode of Dancing With The Stars, he told a reporter that there wouldn't be a dry eye in the room. At the time I wondered what about a 90-second dance could bring tears. Now I know.
Last night Michael told the story of losing his father to homophobia. What has made him such a powerful cultural force is his unwillingness to be anything but himself. He kisses his boyfriend on national television. He uses wit to defuse Tony Dungy. Last night he clearly and powerfully rejected the homophobia of his father that Michael says has driven the two of them out of each other's lives.
My partner, Dan, and I know what this is like. This May we will have been together for 12 years. I have never met his father. We got married last year. While his mother is supportive, she did not come to our wedding for fear of Dan's dad's reaction. We have been in the same town at the same time - Dan's father has refused to meet me.
When we watched Michael dance last night, we did not have dry eyes. It was like watching the last 12 years of our struggle with Dan's dad play out in front of us. Just last month Dan's father again refused to sit down at a restaurant with us and have dinner. I could never understand why someone would effectively disown their child for anything. I clearly don't understand my father-in-law, because that's exactly what he's done. It's been incredibly painful at times, particularly for Dan. It has at other times put a strain on our relationship. Yet we're still going strong - and Michael is too.
A lot of people have criticized Michael for doing Dancing With The Stars, the Oprah Winfrey documentary and a bunch of other things. They want Michael to be quiet about his sexual orientation. They want him to go back in the closet.
I am so grateful that Michael has not listened to any of those voices. Sadly it has cost him a spot in the NFL so far. But the courage and strength with which he continues to carry himself inspires many young kids. It has cost him - in money and pride - to be this incredible role model, this beacon of light shining the truth on America. Last night he shined the light on one man's rejection of our 12-year relationship.
I have rarely been more proud of Michael than I was last night.
You can watch Michael's incredible performance below: