NBA Player Jason Collins Confesses “I’m A 34-Year-Old NBA Center. I’m Black. And I’m Gay.”
NBA player Jason Collins has become the first active male player in the history of any of the four major American professional sports (football, basketball, baseball, and hockey) to come of the closet and admit that he is gay.
In the May 6, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated, the Washington Wizards center got straight to the point by saying, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
In the exclusive self-penned essay titled “The Gay Athlete,” Collins went on to express his feelings on breaking barriers in the sports arena. “I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” he wrote. “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 response to his courageous announcement, NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement of support. “As Adam Silver and I said to Jason, we have known the Collins family since Jason and Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family,” Stern said. “Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”
Aaron McQuade, the head of GLAAD‘s sports program, echoed Stern’s sentiments saying, “‘Courage’ and ‘inspiration’ are words that get thrown around a lot in sports, but Jason Collins has given both ideas a brand new context,” he said. “We hope that his future team will welcome him, and that fans of the NBA and sports in general will applaud him. We know that the NBA will proudly support him, and that countless young LGBT athletes now have a new hero.”
Not everyone however has applauded Collins for making history. “I’m a Christian,” ESPN’s Chris Broussard said. “I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin.”
NFL player Mike Wallace of the Miami Dolphins also expressed his disgust on Twitter by writing, “All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys.”
Yet, despite whatever controversy may arise, Collins feels he has earned the right to finally be himself. “I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want,” he wrote. “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.”
Read Jason’s complete Sports Illustrated essay here and watch what White House Secretary Jay Carney had to say about America’s first openly gay athlete in the video below. What do you think of Jason’s confession?