Michael Sam kisses his boyfriend Vito Cammisano
An emotional Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend on hearing the news that he’d become the first openly gay player to be drafted by America’s National Football League (NFL).
On Saturday, Sam was shown on national television waiting with family and friends for a phone call from the St. Louis Rams confirming that they had selected him for their team.
The 24-year-old wept as he took the call, and then turned to his boyfriend Vito Cammisano for a joyful kiss.
Sam, who completed university last year, was seen as one of the most sought after college players by the traditionally macho NFL.
When he came out as gay in February, he received praise from the likes of President Obama but there were concerns that the move had affected his chances of being drafted by an NFL team.
Sam was only picked in the seventh and final round of drafts, something which he suggested could have had to do with his coming out. “From last season alone, I should’ve been in the first three rounds,” he said after finally being chosen.
He later tweeted: “Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I’m using every [ounce] of this to achieve greatness!!”
Cammisano also tweeted about his partner’s historic achievement: “Wow. What a day. On cloud 9. So proud and happy!”
Rams Coach Jeff Fisher told the NFL Network: “He’s a good football player. We got a good football player… I’m excited to get him on the practice field and get him going.”
Jason Collins, the openly gay basketball player who was signed by the Brooklyn Nets in March, told ESPN: “This is a great day for the NFL and for Michael Sam and his family. I am very happy for Michael that he got drafted and that his dream is coming true.”
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued a statement congratulating Sam and the St. Louis Rams.
“Today, LGBT young people can look to Sam as proof that being open and proud of who you are doesn’t keep you from achieving your dreams. Gay people are our neighbours and friends. They’re our United States Senators and, starting today, they’re our professional football stars,” said Griffin.