For a while now, Nike has been itching for the first active athlete in the major four sports to come out. The athletic wear brand finally has a gay man to possibly court for a lucrative endorsement. Jason Collins the 7-foot, 12-year NBA veteran sat down with Sports Illustrated to openly discuss his sexuality and why he is now making it public. “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black and I’m gay,” he proclaims. Not only is he the first NBA player to come out, but the first active athlete on any major sports team. Talk about a #gamechanger.
“I realized I needed to go public when Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy,” Collins explains. “I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “me, too.”
“The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less than three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard and I couldn’t say a thing. I didn’t want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing.”
“My maternal grandmother was apprehensive about my plans to come out publicly,” Collins says. “She grew up in rural Louisiana and witnessed the horrors of segregation. During the civil rights movement she saw great bravery play out amid the ugliest side of humanity. She worries that I am opening myself u up to prejudice and hatred. I explained to her that in a way, my coming out is preemptive. I shouldn’t have to live under the threat of being outed. The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ’s.”
For the entire interview, head over to Sports Illustrated. It’s a great read.
GLAAD also released a statement today regarding Jason Collins’ coming out in his essay appearing Sports Illustrated.
“‘Courage’ and ‘inspiration’ are words that get thrown around a lot in sports, but Jason Collins has given both ideas a brand new context,” said Aaron McQuade, head of GLAAD’s sports program. “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.”
Here’s a few supporting tweets from celebrities, fellow athletes, the NBA, and even a former President of the United States.
Jason’s brother Jarron Collins: “At the end of the day, this is what matters: He’s my brother, he’s a great guy, and I want him to be happy. I’ll love him and I’ll support him and, if necessary, I’ll protect him.”
Chelsea Clinton: “Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA.”
Spike Lee: “Jason Collins just did Beautiful Thing. Be Yourself.”
Kobe Bryant: “Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU”
Chris Kluwe: “Big kudos to @JasonCollins34. Living proof that your sexuality has nothing to do with your athletic ability.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern: “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. 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.”
Washington Wizards team statement: “We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly. He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation.”
Chrissy Teigen: “I dunno who you are Jason Collins but I am extremely proud of you if that means anything.”
Eric Stonestreet: “awesome, amazing, game changer.”
Laura Benanti: “Jason Collins is my new hero. What a brave and wonderful thing he has done. #IWillNeverTweetAboutSportsAgain”
Lance Bass: “Congrats @jasoncollins34 !! Giant leap for sports – and the conversation continues!”
Naturally, there are some homophobic dumbasses tweeting not so flattering things. Feel free to check out those mofos for yourself on Twitter. It truly boggles my mind how some people can openly spew derogatory terms and hate on him specifically for his sexuality. Congratulations to Jason Collins for making this historic step for gay athletes. Bravo.