Jason Collins is gay.
In a sea of celebrities who have ‘come out’, Collins could easily get lost in the rising tide of actors, musicians, politicians and other public figures who have openly shared their sexuality. However, Jason Collins is a 12-year veteran of the NBA, and still an active player, which makes his story unique…for now.
Collins hopes to change that with his revelation, a first for an athlete competing in any of the major-league American sports, which came Monday in the form of a first-person Sports Illustrated article.
Jason Collins is Gay: NBA Star Comes Out in Sports Illustrated Story
In the touching SI article, which is available online and will appear in the next print issue of the iconic sports magazine, Collins, 34, explains his motivations for coming out now. “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.”
In the article, Collins describes leading a “double life” that has held him back from feeling close to his teammates for 12 seasons now. Collins explains how he has worked hard to portray himself as a ‘straight’ player, just like everybody else, but he is finally ready to be himself. As far as the locker room goes, Collins says nothing will change. “The biggest concern seems to be that gay players will behave unprofessionally in the locker room. Believe me, I’ve taken plenty of showers in 12 seasons. My behavior wasn’t an issue before, and it won’t be one now. My conduct won’t change.”
After an extensive basketball career, Jason Collins is now a free agent who was recently traded from the Boston Celtics; he currently plays as a center for the Washington Wizards wearing jersey number 98. Collins says he chose the jersey number 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard, who was brutally killed for being himself, for being gay, during a vicious 1998 attack. The jersey number, Collins says, is “a statement to myself, my family and my friends.”
What do you think about the announcement that Jason Collins is gay and playing for the NBA? What is the significance of his move to come out now, and how might his decision to lead an openly gay lifestyle impact other gay players of major league team sports in America? Might Collins’ revelation lead to other players feeling comfortable enough to come out? Leave your thoughts and comments below.