Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Out In Bounds

Jason Collins in Sports Illustrated:

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.

Jason Collins

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.

Despite the fact that a lot of other athletes have come out over the last thirty years, Mr. Collins is the first one to come out while still an active player in one of the big four major league sports.

The support he’s been getting is amazing.  JMG has samples of support from other players in the NBA and other sports, and allies ranging from entertainment to the White House.  That makes it a big deal.

Of course there are the trolls, including alleged Christians who have the gall to tell other Christians that they’re not Christian if they’re gay.  (Last time I checked, deciding that you’re a Christian is between you and your imaginary friend.)

I applaud Mr. Collins, and not to take anything at all away from his bravery and honesty, I hope the next time a major league athlete comes out, it isn’t greeted with headlines.  After all, it shouldn’t be that big a deal.

Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

2 barks and woofs on “Out In Bounds

  1. Woo-hoo!

    I hope the next time a major league athlete comes out, it isn’t greeted with headlines. I’m not so sure of that. There are a lot of pro and college sports, and a lot of athletes involved. Collins’ coming out is wonderful, but it’s the first active pro athlete to say something. If Esera Tuaolo had done it first (instead of waiting for retirement), maybe by now it wouldn’t merit special attention; as it is, I think the first dozen or so will be nearly as big. And given how macho/hetero professional sports can be, the publicity can only be a good thing.

  2. Frank Bruni has a good op-ed today. He writes that only when the other identification qualifiers in the announcement get as much attention on Twitter or the press as the gay part – “I’m a 34 year old NBA center and I’m black” or “now I’m a free agent” – will the end of this long road be behind us.

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