The other shoe has finally dropped. Jason Collins stated “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” And with that, he became “the first openly gay athlete playing for a major American team sport.”
He plays for the Washington Wizards, at last known, though he says that he is currently a free agent. He notes that he has played for six pro teams and been in two NBA Finals. He said “I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.”
Collins opened up to Sports Illustrated about being gay, and wrote that he “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.”
In the article, he explains that he started thinking about coming out in 2011 while playing for the Atlanta Hawks.
Collins explains that he has gotten a mixed bag of reactions from his family when coming out. His aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco, told him “I’ve known you were gay for years.” His twin brother, however, apparently was very surprised. His brother is Jarron Collins, who played in the NBA for quite some time too.
The rest of what Collins wrote can be read at Sports Illustrated.
There has been much speculation as to who would be the first openly gay man playing for a major athletic team to come out. Collins’ decision to come out may result in more gay men having the courage to come out as well. It will certainly begin the process of changing minds about what it means about being gay.