Jason Collins is the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. The 34-year-old Washington Wizards center revealed that he is gay in a first person essay in Sports Illustrated.

Collins, who has been playing in the NBA since 2001, said he’s happy to be the first and thinks it’s overdue: “If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand,” he wrote.

He also admitted he was closeted for a long time and even dated women: “When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.”

The NBA veteran, who has played for the New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards, said the Boston Marathon bombing influenced him to live in truth: “The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?”

Collins, who has a twin brother, Jarron, acknowledged that the social climate toward LGBT people is better than it has been in the past: “I’m glad I’m coming out in 2013 rather than 2003. The climate has shifted; public opinion has shifted. And yet we still have so much farther to go. Everyone is terrified of the unknown, but most of us don’t want to return to a time when minorities were openly discriminated against. I’m impressed with the straight pro athletes who have spoken up so far — Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbadejo. The more people who speak out, the better, gay or straight. It starts with President Obama’s mentioning the 1969 Stonewall riots, which launched the gay rights movement, during his second inaugural address. And it extends to the grade-school teacher who encourages her students to accept the things that make us different.”

The center, who averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during his 12-season NBA career, says he is looking forward to hitting the court as an openly gay man: “I’m glad I can stop hiding and refocus on my 13th NBA season.”

Read more from his article here.

  • http://gravatar.com/elgreene ed

    The “down-low” exists because of HOMOPHOBIA. When straight people stop being homophobic, the down-low will go away. If homophobia did not exist, the down-low would not exist.

    Before the black Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, “black” people who could “pass” for white did it so they wouldn’t have to deal with Jim Crow segregation and other kinds of racial hatred. And who could blame them?

    Gays and lesbians today can be fired just for being gay in most states because there are no laws in those states outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation. That’s one kind of discrimination. There are others. For example, “street harassment” (homophobic name calling in public spaces) based on sexual orientation is very real for those gay men who are “clockable” (CANNOT “pass” for straight). At least gay men, like Jason, have a choice about whether to “come out” or not (they can pass for straight). Some gay men are clockable no matter what they do.

    The LGBT movement has made great strides in recent years but there is still a very long way to go. This means that the “down-low” is going to be around for a long time: most gay/bisexual men who can “pass” for straight will probably continue to do so.

    The “down-low” is NOT going anywhere until homophobia goes away. Those straight people who want the “down-low” to go away should work hard to make homophobia go away.

  • talaktochoba

    first everyone who disapproves or even despises as i do homosexuality is not a “phobe”;

    second, homosexuality CANNOT be com/pared to the Civil Rights era of 50 years ago–racial characteristics are INHERITED and cannot be changed by will, homosexuality is a CHOICE, much like a menu selection, which can be changed at will;

    homosexuality is not a disease or virus or inheritance–it is best classified as abberant behaviour, and like all behaviour, it is ultimately the choice of the individual;

    all well and good, but DON’T try cram down my throat the cohabitation of two males or females as a “marriage” equal to that of me and my wife, and so demand rights equal to those we enjoy–and then expect me to use my tax dollars to support it;

    finally, ANYONE who willfully deceives another for almost ten years in the most emotional possible of relationships short of childbirth is reprehensible and deserves no forum to offer up excuses for an act so legally and morally indefensible;

    if ever there were a circumstance for a suit for breach of promise, this has to be it;

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