Dear Commons Community,
NBA center Jason Collins has become the first male athlete in a major professional sport to come out as gay.
The 34-year-old, a free agent who has played with the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics this past season, tells Sports Illustrated:
“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.”
Initial reaction has been very supportive of Collins’ coming out. NBA commissioner David Stern applauded Collins in a statement cited by ESPN, noting, “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 President Ernie Grunfeld felt similarly, calling Collins “a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career” in a statement. GLAAD’s Aaron McQuade echoed those sentiments, calling Collins a “new hero” for young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes in an email statement. “‘Courage’ and ‘inspiration’ are words that get thrown around a lot in sports, but Jason Collins has given both ideas a brand new context,” McQuade said. “We hope that his future team will welcome him, and that fans of the NBA and sports in general will applaud him. Former President Bill Clinton added “Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community.”
It is wonderful to see so much support for Collins. We wish him all the best!!