Jason Collins became the first openly gay player currently playing in one of America’s major sports leagues today when an article he co-wrote for Sports Illustrated‘s May 6th issue hit the web announcing his decision to come out. Collins is a 12 year veteran of the NBA, and is known for being an aggressive team player, always ready to provide bench minutes and solid rebounding presence. He’s currently a free agent, having played for both the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards this past year.
In the Sports Illustrated article, Collins recounts having always known he was gay, though he stayed in the closet largely so that his team’s reputation wouldn’t suffer. He came out to his family last summer, after his former Stanford roommate and current Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy participated in Boston’s Pride parade. He was angry that as a closeted player he wasn’t even able to go out and support his friend. His friends and family have all been supportive of his coming out, and he will be marching in Boston’s Pride alongside with Kennedy this year.
Collins isn’t sure how his decision will affect other players in the league, but expresses that he will be available to answer any teammate who has questions for him. “My behavior wasn’t an issue before, and it won’t be one now. My conduct won’t change,” he affirms. This annoucement comes on the heels of the NHL announcing a partnership with the Let’s Play Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting gay athletes and provide resources for them, and many news outlets were anticipating a story like this to drop. Now that it has, I hope it means that more athletes will feel safe to come out. Jason Collins is certainly an incredibly brave man for being the first to do so.
[via Sports Illustrated]