“I’m a 34-year old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
History has been made, those words from Jason Collins making him the first professional athlete to come out as gay during his sports career. Collins, an NBA center for the Washington Wizards, wrote an essay for the May 6, 2013 issue of “Sports Illustrated,” his sexuality becoming public this past Monday.
The Collins news has been spreading like rapid fire, excitement and admiration pouring from the masses, including President Barack Obama. Upon hearing that Collins had publicly come out, President Obama phoned the NBA star, impressed by Collins’ courage.
Collins’ supporters stand up
Said Collins, on a “Good Morning America” interview this morning about his conversation with President Obama, “He was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me and said that this not only affected my life, but others going forward.”
Collins has garnered much support, First Lady Michelle Obama tweeting this past Monday “This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back!”
“Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support,”said Koby Bryant on his Twitter page, Bryant once fined for calling a NBA referee a “a fag” during a game in April 2011.
Former President Bill Clinton and former NBA sensation John Amaechi have also heralded Collins for his bravery.
The pressure of hiding
For gay individuals, especially for people in the sports world, the pressure of hiding one’s sexuality can create much anxiety.
“No wants to live in fear. I’ve always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don’t sleep well. I never have,” said Collins in his “Sports Illustrated” essay. “But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie.”
Collins started to chip away at that lie when he decided to come out to his Aunt Teri, the first family member he revealed he sexuality to. Expressing that she always knew Collins was gay, his aunt was accepting of him.
That proved a life-changing moment for the Wizards star, Collins writing in his essay, “From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief i felt was sweet release. Imagine you’re in the oven baking. I should know I baked for 33 years.”
Out and proud
Collins plans on attending Boston’s Gay Pride 2013 parade with gay congressman Joe Kennedy, Collins’ former college roommate.
Jason Collins wrote some thought provoking words at the end of his essay:
“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.”
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