Jason Collinsis taking a stand and paving the way for gay professional athletes
The NBA center has come out as a gay man—the first active professional major team athlete to do so—in an article he penned for Sports Illustrated where he openly discusses his sexuality and reveals why he waited before opening up to the public.
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black and I'm gay," the 12-year NBA player begins. "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."
He continues, explaining why he felt compelled to publicly come out:
"I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade," he writes. "I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, ‘Me, too.'"
And finally, he shares how he hopes his admission will inspire tolerance in the NBA:
"The most you can do is stand up for what you believe in. I'm much happier since coming out to my friends and family. Being genuine and honest makes me happy," he says. "Some people insist they've never met a gay person. But Three Degrees of Jason Collins dictates that no NBA player can claim that anymore. Pro basketball is a family. And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who's gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who's out."
Talk about bravery beyond the basketball court. Be sure to read the full SI article, which hits newsstands May 6.