FOR THE first time in history, an openly gay NFL draftee kissed his same-sex partner publicly and we got to see it.
"Kisstory" is how the New York Daily News dubbed the passionate lip-locks between Michael Sam and his boyfriend, who happens to be white and very good-looking. The headline-making smooches took place Saturday after Sam, who is African-American and quite the hunk himself, learned he'd been drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams.
Their kisses were the real deal. Done without an ounce of shame or reticence. They were two men in the moment expressing profound relief and joy. It was a sweet, unadulterated outpouring of feelings captured by an ESPN film crew. Watching all that raw, honest masculine emotion made me tear up.
To the homophobes reading this, I'd like to point out that the world didn't come to an end because Sam kissed his hot boyfriend, Vito Cammisano.
Nor did the wrath of God rain down upon us. SEPTA buses continued running. Nobody's child was scarred, although parents may have had some explaining to do about how it's perfectly normal for same-sex couples to love each other and to express those feelings physically.
A lot of us gawked at the sight of two good-looking guys kissing on ESPN - not that you can blame us. It was some serious man-candy action and also virgin territory for the NFL draft. It was reality TV at its juiciest.
Reactions were predictable and swift. Some fans objected to their kids' being exposed to the sight of two men kissing. Others likened the lip action to gay porn. Look, I've seen gay porn and this wasn't it.
Shortly after Sam was drafted, Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones stupidly posted a one-word tweet: "Horrible." It later was taken down. The team's general manager said he was aware of and disappointed by Jones' behavior.
At one point, Sam reportedly smashed cake into boyfriend Cammisano's face. Photos show his face covered with cake as the couple once again kissed. Cammisano is a former swimmer at the University of Missouri, which Sam also attended.
I'm on Team Sam all the way. I'll be rooting for him when he dons his new Rams jersey because he easily could have stayed silent the way so many other gay NFL players have in the past and may be doing right now. Sam could have asked his boyfriend to lie low and rustled up a rent-a-date for the cameras.
Instead, Sam chose to speak his truth about his sexual orientation and bravely stand in the light of who he is. We're inching along, becoming more tolerant and more accepting of different lifestyles. Sam's actions, both on the gridiron and off, will nudge us even further along.
One day, in the not-so-distant future, the fact that a hunky male pro athlete kissed his equally hot boyfriend won't even make the news. We're not there yet, but we're getting there.