Missouri's All-American defensive end Michael Sam claps during the Cotton Bowl trophy presentation, Feb. 15, 2014, in Columbia, Mo.
L.G. Patterson/AP

Michael Sam supporters block out Westboro Baptist Church protest

Updated

When college football player Michael Sam made his first public appearance since he came out publicly as gay last weekend, the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church was there to meet him. But they weren’t the only ones.

On Saturday, hundreds of Michael Sam supporters—perhaps as many as a thousand—lined up outside the University of Missouri’s home game against Tennessee. Sam, who played defensive end for Missouri during his college career, was in attendance. It was his first public appearance since he came out on Saturday.

The Westboro Baptist Church frequently pickets against out gay people, but their protest at the Missouri game was dwarfed by the pro-Michael Sam counter-protest. Sam’s supporters tweeted photos and words of solidarity under the hashtag #StandWithSam.

Here’s what Sam tweeted in response:

Sam, a Cotton Bowl champion and SEC Defensive Player of the Year, is a strong prospect in the NFL draft. If he gets drafted onto an NFL team, he will become the first openly gay active player in the history of the league.

Melissa Harris-Perry, 2/16/14, 1:07 PM ET

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Gay Rights

Michael Sam supporters block out Westboro Baptist Church protest

Updated