|Jason Collins is the first current male member of a U.S. professional |
sport franchise to come out of the closet as openly gay
What's pretty wild is that Collins is the second professional basketball player to come out in as many weeks. Last week, Brittney Griner came out as a lesbian when she was the #1 draft pick for the WNBA and the world shrugged because gender stereotypes suggest that female professional athletes are likely to be gay anyway.I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.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.My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.I've played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you're in the league, and I haven't been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates' teammates. Or one of your teammates' teammates' teammates.Now I'm a free agent, literally and figuratively. 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.
Congratulations to Jason Collins! It will be fascinating to see what the reaction will be in the NBA and the rest of professional sports. The interaction of race and sexuality should make this story particularly interesting.