• Mon, Apr 29 - 12:22 pm ET

Jason Collins Becomes First Openly Gay Athlete In Major Male Pro-Sports

Jason Collins NBA player & openly gay pro athleteWant to read something inspiring this morning? Go check out pro-basketball player Jason CollinsSports Illustrated essay, in which the NBA center comes out as gay and explains why it’s important to him to do so now. Here’s the awesome opening:

I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

Collins—who has played for the Celtics (and elsewhere) and is now a free agent—isn’t just the first NBA player to openly admit to being gay; he’s the first male athlete from any of the four major professional sports in America—baseball, football, basketball and hockey—to come out.

In the past, players have come out after they’ve retired, but never before has an active athlete from one of these four core pro-sports done so. Makes this a pretty damn cool (and brave) move on Collin’s part, doesn’t it? Especially considering he’s not yet signed a contract for next year.

In his essay, which appears in the May 6, 2013, issue of Sports Illustrated, Collins explains why he felt compelled to open up this “conversation” at this point in time.

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.

But “I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful,” Collins continues.

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. 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.”

Hell. Yeah. Maybe it’s just that kind of morning, but reading this gave me chills. It’s such a beautiful and honest sentiment. Go read Collins’ whole coming-out essay here.

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  • Eileen

    That’s so awesome. (I also think it’s awesome that his college roommate is now a congressman!) What with this and Brittney Griner’s casual coming-out earlier this month, it’s a good time for gay acceptance in pro sports.

  • chickadee

    I actually didn’t believe your headline — I went and googled and discovered (via Wikipedia) that the only major “out” male athletes are either European or British and that the only American athletes that are out are either retired or they are in less-visible sports. I was pretty surprised, since I just assumed that we had gotten past that. I don’t know why I thought that, actually….and I hope Collins gets a contract for next year.