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Martina Navratilova: Jason Collins' Coming Out 'Will Save Lives'

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who helped pave the way for Jason Collins' coming out with her own years ago, praised Jason Collins in a Sports Illustrated column today.

NavratilovaShe says, humbly, that although she had less support and lost endorsements it was easier in a way:

When I came out, in 1981, I didn't have much public support and I know I lost endorsements. But I never had to worry about losing my job. In tennis, there are no bosses, no general managers and no coaches who can keep players from competing. So I was safe in that regard. For team sports athletes, this is not the case. A homophobic coach at any level -- high school, college or pros -- could keep a player from playing.

And she makes note of what it will mean for gay kids:

Now that Jason Collins has come out, he is the proverbial "game-changer." One of the last bastions of homophobia has been challenged. How many LGBT kids, once closeted, are now more likely to pursue a team sport and won't be scared away by a straight culture?

Collins has led the way to freedom. Yes, freedom -- because that closet is completely and utterly suffocating. It's only when you come out that you can breathe properly. It's only when you come out that you can be exactly who you are. Collins' action will save lives. This is no exaggeration: Fully one third of suicides among teenagers occur because of their sexuality. Collins will truly affect lives, too. Millions of kids will see that it is OK to be gay. No need for shame, no need for embarrassment, no need for hiding.

Navratilova hopes that Collins actions create "an avalanche" of similar revelations.

In related news, Billie Jean King tweeted today:

I am thrilled @JasonCollins34 was able to come out on his own terms and, as he put it, is ready to continue the conversation. This is a day of celebration for the LGBT community and for all of us. I look forward to the day when the news of anyone coming out, is a non-issue and once we reach that point we will know we have arrived.

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Comments

  1. I hope Martina is right. Hopefully, more players will come out just like Senators started "evolving" one after another the last few months.

    Posted by: Reed | Apr 29, 2013 7:30:41 PM


  2. Thank you Jason Collins for having the strength of character to take part of your personal life out into the public realm. Your voice helps give inspiration and hope to embattled gay kids everywhere.

    Posted by: JONES | Apr 29, 2013 7:42:48 PM


  3. His message was stay in the closet....He played for 12 years and only comes out at the end of his career?....

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Apr 29, 2013 7:54:22 PM


  4. So is Jason one of the Four rumored to come out this year, or is he doing this on his own and the Four are still waiting?

    Posted by: Zeta | Apr 29, 2013 7:57:19 PM


  5. Women have had it easier than men. Women are allowed to cross-dress, for instance. Liberalism is about giving women advantages over men.

    Lesbianism is more acceptable because it serves the interests of sleazy straight guys. Why else would lesbian scenes be included in straight porn movies?

    Posted by: Adam | Apr 29, 2013 7:57:50 PM


  6. @Alan Brickman -- STFU! Who are you to say when is the right time for anyone to come out? Many others didn't ever come out, they came out after the retired or, like Kwame Harris, they were outed. Collins didn't have to come out now and in spite of the accolades he's getting today, it surely won't be an easy road for him. That being said, he did it and that's an amazing thing!

    Posted by: Gigi | Apr 29, 2013 8:00:35 PM


  7. Alan Brickman is one of those people to whom the glass is always half empty. They can't help it. Negativity is in their DNA. They don't enjoy life. They merely endure it. Be assured, even they can't rain on this awesome parade. Go Jason, You are AWESOME!!!

    Posted by: andrew | Apr 29, 2013 9:02:17 PM


  8. It seems like this should be a no-brainer. So what's the big deal? Yet still I experienced deep, emotional feelings when I read the article in SI. I'm proud of him and happy for those kids just coming into their own sexually and want to be in the world of sports.

    Posted by: Robert K Brown | Apr 29, 2013 9:18:36 PM


  9. She's right, of course. He'll have a tremendous impact on kids struggling to come out and looking for public figures to identify with.

    And yet, I still think The Onion today published one of its most astute headlines ever: "Gay Teen Still Going To Buy LeBron James Jersey"

    Posted by: ripper | Apr 29, 2013 9:27:42 PM


  10. Martina nails it. read what she says carefully. This is a big moment.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 29, 2013 9:39:00 PM


  11. She's right.

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Apr 29, 2013 10:04:34 PM


  12. no ripper...not this gay teen. I just ordered my Jason Collins jersey. I love Adam Lambert. I watch Ellen. I'm 19 and am proud to be a gay man and an LGBT member and I support our own. There's many people like me, whether you know them or not.

    Posted by: Jeff | Apr 30, 2013 11:26:35 AM


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