NBA Center Jason Collins: ‘I’m Gay’

Sportsillustrated_collins

Jason Collins, a center who played for the Washington Wizards last season and is now a free agent, today became the first openly gay male player in a major pro sport, SI reports:

Jason_collinsI'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…

…Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I'm a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.

Collins adds:

No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.

Much more at the link below…

Why NBA center Jason Collins is coming out now [sports illustrated]

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Comments

  1. jason says

    Chelsea Clinton had a wonderful Facebook post acknowledging Jason’s courage…unfortunately the post was up for about 10 minutes before it was removed.

  2. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says

    He’s free agent…meaning he’s NOT a current member of any NBA team? So he’s yet-another former professional athlete at the end of his career?

  3. Gigi says

    Jason is paving the road that many others will follow. I look forward to a day when we won’t have to talk about being gay. We’ll just be allowed to be. Until then, stay strong and play well sir.

  4. says

    It’s the 21st Century, and in professional sports they are still in the dark ages. When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in MLB, I recall many of the black stars that followed in his footsteps… and when talking about them, I defined them as black ballplayers. However,as a pure baseball fan when I read the daily box scores… I subliminally thought of black players being black… but soon as I compared them to other players,I realized I was more interested in their stats.

    I hope many more stars come out in sports,and in time we compare them by their stats and not their sexual preference, race or religion. Being gay does not make one a better athlete, politician or hairdresser. It’s nice to have something in common with them… but it should not be the only reason to root for them.

  5. Francis #1 says

    OMG, yes! Yes yes yes! It’s happened. The first officially active player has come out! Jason is such a smart guy, too, and his SI article is incredibly well written. Jason wore #98 in memory of Matthew Shepard. Now that’s awesome. He’s come out with grace. He’s a hero.

    The question now is: Will he find a team. He was traded and then released this season. If he ends up not getting any offers then it won’t necessarily deflate what Jason has done but it won’t be quite as watershed a moment.

    Regardless, the breakthrough has been made. Jason Collins, known as one of the best defenders in the league! Such an amazing, proud moment.

  6. Craig S says

    “Ted B. (Charging Rhino)”, he is currently on an NBA team (Washington Wizards, just recently switched from the Boston Celtics). Free agency doesn’t necessarily mean a person’s teamless; that’s one *kind* of free agency, but not the only kind.

  7. Francis #1 says

    Yes, he’s a free agent and a big test will be if he’s signed. I bet Mark Cuban signs Jason Collins. If he ends up not being signed then it won’t be *as* big a deal…..but still a MAJOR breakthrough. Because Jason is the first. The first has already happened. That takes pressure of the second. And the third, and so on.

  8. Charles says

    “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

    As Bill Maher would say, the part about being black isn’t a secret. We already know. :)

  9. anon says

    He’s not technically a member of a team, so let’s see someone actually playing come out. He should also be completely honest here, if this is to attract novelty sponsorships then he should say so.

  10. Scott Johansen says

    So proud right now!

    We need to support him though LGBT…Get on social media and support him! PLEASE!

    His in for relentless bashing. Please rally around him. It’s what our community does best.

  11. Bama man says

    Guys, be prepared for your talking points to heteros who argue “why do I have to know you’re gay? keep it in your bedroom”

    We have to have our talking points ready in illustrating to said ignorant heterosexuals about the significance coming out plays in not only changing lives, and enhancing freedoms, but role modeling for future generations and enabling an individual to truly be liberated. And that being gay is more than a sex act…it’s about companionship, a fight for equality, a rich history, and love.

  12. Duration & Convexity says

    He sounds so smart and wise, and has a compassionate look about him. I’m ALREADY proud to have him in our community.

    I agree with other commentators that he’s stepping in a very homophobic climate, especially in the coming day or two. It’s vital we show our support. Every single one of us, get on social media, on his twitter or facebook page if he has one and state your gratitude!

  13. Kevin S. says

    Does he have a twitter or facebook page? anyone willing to post the link?

    Also need to get on the sports illustrated page and comment positively about him. We need to counter the ignorance that will surely be spewed toward his bravery and courage.

  14. Alejandro says

    I agree. This is one story we should all be commenting on in other (straight) sites and blogs, including sports sites. I expect he’ll be met with a lot of “keep that crap hidden in your bedroom” and it’s important he and his camp see that there are those of us who are deeply touched, and impacted by this move, and that he’s literally helping save lives because of it. We need to get our voices out there in mainstream, and not just hidden in our isolated comments section of this blog. Just something to think about….

  15. marissa says

    who cares if your a gay s long you act as normal person.how i wish to have bf like your skin i dont know what wrong with me but am attract with black man.. :)

  16. MikeBoston says

    ‘Three degrees of Jason Collins’ – great quote.

    I have nothing but respect for this guy. He’s doing a very brave thing and he pulled it off in the most positive and humble way.

    I am thrilled that the first active pro athlete was someone that was on no one’s radar screen, no scandal, etc. He seems like an all-around great guy. The icing on the cake is that he is attractive and articulate.

    Mr Collins – Welcome to the light! Thank you for taking this chance for yourself and for us.

  17. Big Pick says

    I’ve always admired players like Jason Collins, who might not have had the most natural ability, but who managed to have long careers in the league because they dedicated themselves to the game, dedicated themselves to staying in condition, and always managed to find a way to contribute to their teams. That’s why year after year, teams manage to find a place for guys like this.

    And specifically, I admired Collins when he was with the Nets for being exactly how he described himself–a big, pick-setting wide body with six hard fouls to give, who contributed to wins off the stat sheet.

    I also remember at that time that there were always rumors about there being a gay player on the Nets, and people always whispering about Richard Jefferson. He was a little bit higher profile than Collins, and maybe regarded as a better player, so it would’ve made a bigger splash, I suppose. I think there are probably at least a couple more guys in the NBA who will eventually come out. Jason Collins just made it a lot easier for them, as John Amaechi did for him.

    Jason Collins is a really good role model though, for making a long career in the NBA by being a regular guy who was a team player and a valuable contributor, and who was never a distraction in any way. There are a lot of high-profile straight so-called ‘superstars’ who can’t say the same.

  18. Rick says

    First of all, congratulations to Jason and a big thank you for having the courage to take this step. Although he is not a household name, he has had a viable and long NBA career that cannot be dismissed.

    He has an opportunity to become the kind of masculine role model for gay teens and youth, especially black gay teens and youth, that has been so sorely lacking for so long, with disastrous results.

    On the down side, he is not currently on an NBA roster and he is in the twilight of his career, so the cynic in me might conclude that he is doing this partly in hopes that the publicity that results will help extend that career beyond the point at which it probably would have ended. And there is the danger that if no team does sign him, it will be widely assumed that it was because he came out even if it was purely for basketball reasons.

    So, for these reasons, he was not the IDEAL player to be the first to come out, but life is rarely ideal and at least he has opened the door for others–perhaps those who are in fact superstars and at the height of their careers–to follow in his footstepts.

    Anyway, hats off to him.

  19. Leo says

    SO MANY reasons to be a proud gay men this year.

    We’re winning in public opinion. We’re winning in court battles. We’re winning with these coming out stories. We’re winning!

    #winning

  20. T.J says

    Come out of the closet, to those trapped in it. The life that awaits you after you come out is more liberating for your soul, regardless of how others treat you. It’s how you feel about yourself, and coming out enhances that self acceptance. More over, read testimonies of people who have come out. You’ll be pleasantly thrilled of the positive experience of many

  21. Chuck Mielke says

    I can hear the increasingly faint exclamations of the bigots: “Oh, no! It’s the homosexual agenda! They’re corrupting our sports figures; and our children, who look up to them as role models, are condemned to lives of confusion and error!” So much for the fantasy the haters promulgate.

    In actual fact, they can’t stand to see their tissue of lies shredded before their eyes.

  22. Rick says

    “The life that awaits you after you come out is more liberating for your soul, regardless of how others treat you.”

    Not if those “others” have the power to destroy your career…..and proceed to do so.

    “It’s how you feel about yourself, and coming out enhances that self acceptance”

    No, it is usually about the risks one subjects oneself to do so if one comes out, not about self-acceptance.

    “More over, read testimonies of people who have come out. You’ll be pleasantly thrilled of the positive experience of many”

    Rupert Everett and Richard Chamberlain would beg to differ.

    All I am saying is that one size does not fit all when it comes to coming out, and most of those who have have done a careful personal cost-benefit analysis and decided that the benefits outweigh the costs.

    I suspect that Jason decided the postive publicity he would receive might allow him to play for another few years, when, had he not come out, his career would have been over. Not to be OVERLY cynical–I am sure that was only one consideration–but still, this idea that coming out always has only positive consequences is simply not true.

  23. Craig S says

    Rick, actually he is currently on a roster; he’s playing for the Washington Wizards.

    If and when he does get traded or cut again, you’re right that we may indeed see a big hoopla about whether his coming out was the *reason* for his dismissal or not, but as of right now he is still an active player who is still on a team.

  24. MateoM says

    Hold on everyone. Rick may seem reasonable now, but soon he will go into his whole “anti-femme, anti-woman” rant that he always posts on threads. Ignore the troll.

  25. Playa505 says

    This is wonderful and enables visibility for our community, and the more visibility we have, the more rights we gain. They work together as straight people see “wow, this gay person I’ve always liked isn’t so bad after all!” or “this person I’ve always liked is gay? guess they are okay”

  26. Alex says

    My very conservative catholic latino family didn’t care I was gay, they still didn’t support our rights…….not until Ricky Martin came out (no joke) Ricky Martin sharing his story, showcasing being a dad, talking about being gay and his struggles is the reason why my family is now supportive of gay people. And they’ll straight up tell you that too.

    Never underestimate the power of celebrity and the impact they have on the general public.

  27. Big Pick says

    @Rick: “..he was not the IDEAL player to be the first to come out.”

    Depends on what your ideal is. I don’t think Collins had to bank on publicity from his coming out to play a couple more seasons in the league, and apparently he felt it would be soul-crushing to have to stay in the closet in order to hang on to the end of a roster for a couple more years. Instead of being cynical, you ought to admire him for not being willing to prostitute his self-respect for a couple more years of salary. I personally feel like he could still be a 8-10 mpg player, at least for another season or two.

    And you never know exactly how NBA teams will respond. It’s possible that some teams in some markets won’t take him on. But it’s an important barometer for the league, giving teams a chance to put their money where their mouth is about promoting equality. You’ll never know for sure until teams are given the chance to act, and either do or don’t. In that sense, I think Collins IS the ideal player.

  28. Kiwi Derrick says

    I think Rick knows a whole lot more about staying in the closet, cowardice, and self-loathing than basketball. That’s probably what has made him so cynical and insufferable.

    Collins has managed to stay employed for 12 years in a league where the average career lasts about 3-4 years. The fact that teams kept signing him to contracts, and the praise he got from a coach like Doc Rivers BEFORE coming out suggests that he didn’t have to do the cost-benefit analysis about coming out. And if he DID, it sure looks like he’s risking more than he’s gaining. Which is a lot more than you can say for a bitter queen like Rick.

  29. Ninong says

    Congratulations, Jason, on having the guts to stand up for your right to live your life as you are. This is the 21st century. Hatred and bigotry based on ignorance have no place in an educated civilized society.

  30. anon says

    As the in-house TR cynic, let’s just say I woke on the wrong side of the bed today, so it’s great that he’s out, but I’m worried this isn’t going to end well. Without a contract, if he gets cut and it’s career-over, how many of you are going to be celebrating? If you are gay and haven’t suffered a string of political disappointments, then you’re probably just very young.

    On the optimistic side, I also think there might be more to the rumored outing of four pro athletes this year at about the same time (though obviously not exactly at the same time). The rumor that this has been in the works for some time might be true, and this could be the first chapter. However, I still suspect the details of this rumor are probably wrong.

  31. Craig says

    This whole conversation could be moot unless he gets picked up (34 is old in the NBA). Let’s now hope there’s a GM out there willing to bring him on.

  32. Big Pick says

    @anon: “…if he gets cut and it’s career-over, how many of you are going to be celebrating?”

    Whether you’re celebrating or not, you still have to respect Collins for being man enough to say he’s not willing to play in the closet anymore, and for having the nutsack to make NBA teams put their money where their mouth is. I think there are some guys who don’t really follow the NBA who don’t understand how valuable a player like Collins can be, particularly to an elite team who needs a player who’ll take on the unglamorous aspects of the game so that the highflyers can soar and dunk. Collins is that player, and always has been. I still think there are probably half a dozen teams who’ll take him on strictly on the merits of basketball ability. His status as a positive role model will just be gravy.

  33. I Ain't Worried says

    NYKnicks are a perfect example of a team that would take on Collins next year, and who probably should’ve tried to acquire him last year. If the NYKnicks will take on 40y.o.-ish frontcourt players like Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, and Kenyon Martin, and a 40-year-old point guard like Jason Kidd, and a 35-year-old first-year NBA player like Prigioni, they would certainly consider taking on a relatively young player like Collins. Plus, Collins is EXACTLY the kind of player the NYKs need to back up Tyson Chandler. He’s not going to demand starter minutes, he’ll take on the role player duties in support of players like Carmelo Anthony, he’ll come prepared every night, won’t get in trouble off the court. He’d be a great presence on a team like the NYKs.

    Same as a backup for Brooks Lopez in Brooklyn, for Joakim Noah in Chicago, and for Dwight Howard in LA (if he stays out there), all of which are large urban cities with gay fan bases.

    Bottom line: there are PLENTY of opportunities for a solid career role-player like Collins.

  34. Man of 1000 Names says

    As usual, Rick shoots off his mouth without regard for the facts.

    From the Sports Illustrated article, a sidebar account with sports agent Arn Tellem, written in first person:

    “….When we finally spoke, Jason revealed his private secret. He said he felt compelled to tell me. He said that, after much soul searching, he realized that it was better for him to have the truth come out. He asked for my support. I asked, “Why now? Why go public?” Jason said he could no longer remain silent. He said he wanted to live honestly and openly and inspire others to do the same. He asked how I thought teams and the public might react.

    I told him that the public would respect his candor. My only fear was that the announcement might influence his impending free agency. I wondered whether teams might be unwilling to risk potential problems with narrow-minded players. This, despite his reputation as a quintessential team player. “Jason,” I said, “could you possibly delay this until after you sign a new contract and have job security?”

    His response was immediate and unshakable. “My basketball career is important,” he said, “but the time has come to live my life. As supportive as my family has been, I feel terribly alone and isolated.” He also didn’t want to risk being outed. “I want to tell the world myself,” he said. “I have faith that other players will judge me by my past performance and what I bring to a team, and not by this announcement alone.”

    So yeah, Collins did the calculus about how it would affect his career, and opted for some peace of mind and self-respect at the risk of a little more financial security.

    Collins is giving NBA teams a chance to do the right thing and make a big statement about acceptance. Let’s see which team is the smart team and takes him up on the opportunity.

  35. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says

    So it’s “great for gays” if a team hires him because he’s GAY—and “terrible for gays” if no-one hires him because his game it’s not there anymore?

    Seems like a dbl-standard.

  36. Topol says

    I have a feeling this will do a world of good for young gay African Americans, especially as they deal with their home and neighborhood environments.

  37. says

    Yes! Thank you Jason! You are such an intelligent, handsome and brave soul!

    Yet, how could you possibly choose not to be brave, if bravery basically means speaking and living the truth? Who in their right mind would not want to do the same, eventually?

    Jason, please know that from today forward you are loved not only by your family, friends and loyal fans, but you are loved by the world, getting to know you!

    Oh… and only take the messages of love in!!!

  38. Keith says

    So proud of you! Now it’s time for me to become a first-time Wizards season ticket holder. IF they keep you.

    It’ll suck for DC if some other team gets you, but I hope you’re playing somewhere next year.

  39. stranded says

    So naturally, the cynics aren’t pleased. He’s a) too old, b) doing it for publicity and c) doing it to extend his stay in the league and d) at the end of his career.

    So what would the perfect out athlete have to be like, in order to please these cynics and thus fairly represent the diverse LBGT community? Oh, he would have to be at the “peak” of his career, so perhaps amid celebrations after winning a championship, someone should scream out “I’m gay”?

    I have a feeling that if he had done this at the start of his career, the cynics wouldn’t still be pleased- they’d accuse him of a) wanting special treatment b) wanting publicity or c) letting his sexual preference cast a shadow on his profession and d) using his sexual preference as shield when his career declines.

    In other words, will the cynics ever be pleased? No, but they’ll be hard pressed to find a player who’s been so consistent with his game for 12 straight seasons, a rare feat that, his foul record notwithstanding, has earned him a place in history as well as the respect and admiration of his peers. He first let his game do the talking on court, and now he’s doing the talking by himself. The cynics will beg to differ, but I bet that his voice will be heard louder and clearer than their estimations. Though it’s a naive thing to call him the “first openly gay, active athlete” (Martina beat him by 30 years), everything he’s said so far has made a difference to a lot of people already and for that we should be thrilled to count him as one of our team.

  40. Rich says

    Jason can’t change being gay, but now he can change being single. Congratulations on finally becoming a most eligible bachelor. All the best, on and off the court.

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