When I publish blogs like my recent “Seven Fabulous Out Gay Men of Figure Skating,” I always sit back and shudder, waiting for the comments like “Why do you have to point out that they are gay? It’s completely irrelevant.” I received several comments in that vein when I wrote a blog (link)about the coming out of college football star Michael Sam. One person wrote on my Facebook page about the post, “Who cares if this dude is gay?” And another more outrageous comment: “This people making more of a deal out of gay sports stars than being a Christian is getting old ! We are a nation built on god guns and freedom, not giving a broke **** if you’re gay or straight.”
So I am going to ask a few questions:
• Is it important to highlight women who become CEOs of major global corporations?
• How about African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans or Asian-Americans who achieve great accomplishments in business or government?
• How about a person who overcomes a major physical disability to excel in a sport or in the business world? I am a big fan of a local group here in North Carolina called “Bridge II Sports” which I highlighted in a past blog “My 2014 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Blog – Bridge II Sports.”
• How about people with learning disabilities who become fully productive members of our society?
I feel there are two very important reasons to highlight a person’s diversity in this way:
1) It is great to have a wide range of diverse role models so that children growing up will get the strong message that nothing should hold you back from achieving your dreams. With all the negative messages out there around various diverse groups, we all need these positive role models and examples.
2) And it highlights the strengths and advantages of diversity. Companies, teams, countries are stronger when they can embrace the wide diversity that each unique person can contribute to the group.
And we should also remember when highlighting diversity, that straight white men are also a critical part of our rich diversity mix! (see my blog “Diversity and Straight White Men – 4 Key Thoughts”)