Jason Collins made history on Monday by becoming the first active athlete in the four major sports to come out as a homosexual. Collins' announcement took courage; he is now opening himself up to positive and negative public opinion.
Washington Wizards center Jason Collins made history this week by announcing to the world that he is a homosexual. Collins is the first active athlete to come out in any of the four major sports in America. Collins is a twelve year veteran of the NBA. This season Collins played 32 games with the Boston Celtics, then was traded to Washington where he played 6 games with the Wizards. Collins is the latest person associated with the game of basketball to come out. Before Collins, former Magic and Jazz Center John Amaechi became the first NBA player to come out; this was after Amaechi's retirement from the NBA. In a 2011 interview after Suns president Rick Welts came out as being gay, Hallof Fame player Charles Barkley painted a very different picture of the NBA landscape, telling the Washington Post, "Every player has played with gay guys. Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin' idiot." Former Baylor center Brittney Griner came out to SI just days before being taken number one overall in the WNBA draft.
There have been athletes from other sports who have come out post retirement. Former NFL running back David Kopay and journeyman defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo came out to HBO's Real Sports in 2002. Also, former Major League Baseball players Glenn Burke and Billy Bean also spoke freely about their sexuality after their playing days in baseball were over. Jason Collins has now become a role model for young athletes who are struggling with their sexuality. Collins released a statement the media about coming out once his announcement hit the headlines. “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.”
Many fellow athletes have tweeted out their support of Collins announcement. Kobe Bryant tweeted, "Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU." Dwyane Wade posted on his twitter, "Jason Collins showed a lot of courage today and I respect him for taking a stand and choosing to live in his truth. #nbafamily" Even former President Bill Clinton tweeted out his support of Collins, "I'm proud to call Jason Collins a friend." Collins former coach Doc Rivers told SI that he hoped this moment was a turning point for the NBA. I personally am proud of the courage shown by Jason Collins to make this announcement. Even though we live in a much more accepting society then we used to, Collins is still taking a risk by making this announcement. Miami Dolphins wide out Mike Wallace tweeted out that he supported Collin's decision but didn't understand how Collins could be gay with "so many beautiful women out there." Wallace later apologized for his ignorant tweet. My hope is that Collins announcement gives a generation of young athletes the courage to be themselves. I truly believe life is too short to hide who you are. Thank you Mr. Collins for your courage, may you continue to receive positive feedback from the sports world.
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