October 26, 2016

First Openly Gay NFL Player to Speak at Cornell

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Michael Sam, the first National Football League player to come out as gay, will deliver a free lecture in Statler Auditorium on Nov. 14, the Cornell University Programming Board announced Thursday.

Sam made headlines when he told his teammates that he was gay in 2013, after finishing his career as a college athlete. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014, and is currently a free agent.

“Since his announcement, through scrutiny, criticism and unreserved admiration, he has become an icon and pioneer for the LGBT community,” CUPB said in a press release.

Sam grew up in Texas in what CUPB called a “childhood overrun with adversity, challenges and pain.” He was offered a scholarship to play for the University of Missouri, where he was named a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, Sporting News, the American Football Coaches Association and the Football Writers Association of America.

Since the 2014 season, Sam has been named GQ Magazine’s Men of the Year, was a finalist for Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs, according to CUPB.

“After a string of successful comedy acts this year, CUPB wanted to end the year with a free lecture with a relevant message for the entire Cornell population,” said CUPB Executive Chairperson Gabe Diamond  ’18.

Free tickets will be available to students on Nov. 1 and to the general public on Nov. 2 at the Willard Straight Hall Resource Center, Big Red Barn and LGBT Resource Center.