NBA player Jason Collins becomes first active male athlete to come out as gay

Jason Collins became the first currently-active, currently-employed NBA player to come out of the closet yesterday. Collins did it in a thoughtful yet spectacular way, by writing a beautiful and epic first-person essay (that served as Sports Illustrated’s cover story) about why he’s coming out now, and his journey to get to this place in his life. The 34-year-old center, currently playing for the Washington Wizards, has become the most talked-about person in the country over the past 24 hours. And I’ve been stunned by the outpouring of support for Collins, from politicians, from reporters and mostly from Collins’ fellow pro athletes. Even Chelsea Clinton – a classmate of Collins’ at Stanford back in the day – tweeted her support for her friend. Pres. Obama called Collins to express his support too. And this is how the world changes.

You can read Jason’s full Sports Illustrated essay here, and I’m including some highlights below:

I’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. My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.

…The first relative I came out to was my aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco. Her reaction surprised me. “I’ve known you were gay for years,” she said. From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imagine you’re in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know — I baked for 33 years.

… I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, 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. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. 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 recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We’ll be marching on June 8.

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.

… My maternal grandmother was apprehensive about my plans to come out. 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 aspects of humanity. She worries that I am opening myself 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.

The hardest part of this is the realization that my entire family will be affected. But my relatives have told me repeatedly that as long as I’m happy, they’re there for me. I watch as my brother and friends from college start their own families. Changing diapers is a lot of work, but children bring so much joy. I’m crazy about my nieces and nephew, and I can’t wait to start a family of my own.

… My one small gesture of solidarity was to wear jersey number 98 with the Celtics and then the Wizards. The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious antigay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found. That same year the Trevor Project was founded. This amazing organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to kids struggling with their sexual identity. Trust me, I know that struggle. I’ve struggled with some insane logic. When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends.

[From Sports Illustrated]

It’s a really beautifully written essay, and I would suggest everyone just read the whole thing. I loved the part about him coming out to his ex-roommate who happens to be a current Congressman, and how they’re going to walk at the Pride Parade together this year.

I love all of the reactions from various public figures too. Michelle Obama tweeted, “So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! –mo”. You can read more reactions here. Huzzah!

Photos courtesy of Sports Illustrated.

 

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132 Responses to “NBA player Jason Collins becomes first active male athlete to come out as gay”

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  1. Nev says:

    Yayyyyyyy!!!!

    Good for you!!! WERK.

  2. Spooks says:

    Good for him. Bravo :)
    Oh, God, I’m crying. And I’m not gay nor American.

  3. Lilo says:

    For me, this should be no big deal. It’s sad that we have to celebrate something like this. I feel being gay, straight, whatever, is the most natural thing. We love who we love. I know the world still needs some time to adjust (well, some parts of the world anyways) and especially manly men-sports have a problem with gay players. I hope many young men take pride in this and find the courage to come out as well and live their life in full happiness.

    • whipmyhair says:

      Totally. Acceptance of different lifestyles maybe be slow, but any movement in this direction is good in my book.

    • Merritt says:

      Male athletes in sports that are stereotyped as being “gay sports” still deal a ton of homophobia inside their sport. I follow figure skating, and of current competing skaters, I can’t name many who are out.

      It shouldn’t be a big deal, but sadly it still is.

    • Oops says:

      absolutely, my aunt lives with her partner for more than 15 years and you know what we never ask her if she’s gay or not, because why ? My male cousin gets married with a woman this week-end and no one said so you’re straight. In my family, we don’t talk about that no because it’s a shame, they come to every family event and everybody is happy it’s just because we don’t ask each other if we are straight or gay, it doesn’t matter

  4. marie says:

    that is a beautifully written essay, kind of made me teary. good on him for having the courage to take a stand. I hate that in today’s world we even have to say it, it shouldn’t matter, it shouldn’t be that big a deal.

  5. Maya says:

    I know nothing about pro sports and had never heard of Jason Collins before yesterday. But when my sister (one of the biggest sports fans on the planet) texted me about his coming out, I immediately teared up, because even I knew what a huge deal this is and what it means for LGBTQ citizens, especially young people, in this country and this culture.

    Thank you for your bravery, Jason Collins. You will inspire others for years to come.

  6. Agnes says:

    love it. good for him. hope it’s a non-issue for his team mates.

    i wish these other people would have gotten more play, though. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/04/jason-collins-not-first-out-gay-pro-athlete

    • lee says:

      yes, this x1000!
      Collins is amazing and it IS a huge deal that he is the first active MALE athlete in professional American team sports to come out, but that first paragraph made me cringe when I read the article yesterday for how it completely erased women’s sports in general and out female athletes in particular. I know that wasn’t his intention, nor Sports Illustrated’s, but I SO appreciate that CB/Kaiser qualified this as being a first for men’s team sports.

      Super proud of Collins though. It’s a huge step in the right direction.

  7. JenD says:

    I know that had to be really hard, so good for him having the courage to do it in such a public way. As someone who doesn’t watch basketball, I had no idea who he was, but hopefully it’ll make it easier for others to be open about who they are, if they chose to be.

  8. gogoGorilla says:

    Such a beautiful article! He seems like a genuinely nice person. Did anyone read about the ESPN idiot who carried on about how sinful this is? You can read about it on Yahoo. I suggest avoiding the comments, which are full of bigoted trolls, ugh.

    • Mich says:

      Yes. And I’m surprised he wasn’t sacked within five minutes of opening his mouth. What a horrible man.

      You can find a relatively troll free comment section about it on talkingpointsmemo.com

      • Jenny says:

        He probably will be fired or suspended and I don’t know if I am good with that. Not that I agree with what he said, at all. In fact quite the opposite: I think Jason Collins is a brave man, a leader and a role model for other LGBTQ athletes.
        I can’t quite figure out how to articulate the way I feel about this, but the same way Jason Collins has a right to be who he is and say what he believes, I think Chris Broussard should also be able to say what he believes, as much as we may disagree. I don’t know the context of his statement, but I didn’t find what he said to be mean-spirited or a personal attack. He did not advocate for treating the gay community poorly or against gay rights. All he said is that in his view of Christianity, you cannot commit “sins” unrepentently and consider yourself a Christian. That is really what that man believes about Christianity and God, and as sad as that is to me, I don’t think any of us should feel entitled to prohibit him from expressing that; if anything it took courage to say something he believes, that he knew he would get a lot of heat for. I don’t know, maybe I’m not expressing myself clearly, but I just had to try.
        And also I cannot recall the name of the other panelist, LZ something, but his response to Chris Broussard was AMAZING. Something along the lines of, I don’t need you or anyone to tell me if I am a Christian, God and Jesus Christ do and that is all that matters.

      • Mich says:

        I understand what you are saying and I agree that he absolutely has a right to his opinion. But he doesn’t have a right to use his employer as a platform to express it. And he doesn’t have a right to express it free from judgement and condemnation.

        SI invited Collins to use them as a platform to make history. Broussard is just an arrogant, opportunistic bigot who took advantage of his position to spew that special brand of “God’s love” that seems so popular in certain quarters today. Most people don’t turn to ESPN for its focus on Christian “moral” teachings.

      • judyjudy says:

        I understand the idea that we should all be able to express our differing opinions…however…I am tired of the argument that certain religions should be able to publicly denounce another human’s rights without receiving a negative response. Would it be okay for a white person to say this man is a lesser person because he’s black? No. Would we tolerate a man calling a woman shameful because of her gender? No. So why is it still okay for someone to stand up and say that another human being is bad/a sinner based on their Christian beliefs? If someone feels that way, okay, but they shouldn’t expect to share a hateful opinion without receiving some push back from those of us who disagree. Knowwhatimean?

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        +1, Jenny. Perfectly stated.

        I’m an atheist and very liberal and very VERY pro-LGBT rights but I wasn’t offended by anything he said. He said it was against his religion, much like infidelity when married is also against his religion and I didn’t feel like he communicated his opinion in an aggressive or hateful manner. I think people should be entitled to express their beliefs in a calm and consistent way without being instantly condemned by the masses simply because they are in the minority. He was stating his opinion, not insisting that everyone has to agree with him. Live and let live.

      • Jayna says:

        He is on there as an ESPN analyst. He’s on there to discuss what this means in the sports world and the ramifications of the announcement to his career and his teammates and how it would or would not impact those teammate relations, etc.

        It was not a place for him to carry on about his personal religious beliefs about homosexuality is a sin and quoting the Bible and arguing Jason isn’t a Christian and also saying anybody who has had sex out of marriage isn’t a Christian either. So the majority of people have had sex outside of marriage and many have lived with someone, but we are all
        sinners and we aren’t Christians? Gee, golly, thanks ESPN, for helping us all see the light about homosexuals and having sex as sinful unless you wait for marriage and keep yourself pure.

        Really? You are on ESPN to discuss sports-related topics, not to do a sermon on who you deem to be a Christian or not. Very unprofessional behavior by an analyst on TV.

      • Mich says:

        His opinion is not a live and let live way of thinking in current America. It is the driving force behind the demonization of an entire group of innocent people – to the extent that legislation is being proposed in certain states to allow restaurants, florists and more to deny service to teh gays.

        It is because of people like Broussard that people like Collins spend their lives in fear of being found out. I can’t both cheer Collins for coming out and simultaneously give Broussard a pass.

        + What Jayna said!!

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        ..OR you could become an atheist, where we don’t condemn or discriminate against ANYONE in the name of a religion. Just a suggestion ;)

        This was his defense and it was exactly how I (personally) interpreted his comments:
        “Today on OTL, as part of a larger, wide-ranging discussion on today’s news, I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before,” he wrote. “I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that.”

        Maybe he shouldn’t have offered commentary but he did and he’s not the first ESPN commentator to inject a personal opinion into his commentating (remember Parker’s “Is he a brother or is he a cornball brother?” comments from late last year?)-regardless, it’s a good sign that most people disagree with him but at the end of the day he I believe he is still entitled to his opinion, as long as he is not expressing it in a hateful way. He didn’t say Jason Collins shouldn’t be openly gay and he didn’t say he shouldn’t be allowed to play in the NBA.

      • Jenny says:

        I understand the need to fight against institutional bigotry, but he wasn’t politicizing his comments and he wasn’t advocating for those kinds of laws. I think there is certainly a line that is never alright to cross (a la Westboro Baptist Church), but again I did not find these comments to be egregious in that way. I think he knew he was going to catch a lot of flak for his comments and I am not even saying that he should get a “pass.”

        I’m just saying that I think this is where meaningful dialogue can begin, when some one can calmly explain what they believe, without inciting violence, hatred, etc. and we can calmly respond as to why we disagree with those sentiments.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:

        “I understand the need to fight against institutional bigotry, but he wasn’t politicizing his comments and he wasn’t advocating for those kinds of laws.”

        Exactly. That’s the thing–an opinion alone cannot deny other people their inherent rights. We have politicians like Santorum, Bachmann, Rubio, Rand, Huckabee, McConnell, Graham, Akin and countless others who vociferously advocate AGAINST LGBT rights. I’m not trying to start a strawman’s argument here–I’m just saying that I reserve my outrage for these people who are in a position of power, not the guy on ESPN who was pretty much irrelevant before this whole *controversy* began.

        Prejudice is a thought, however unfounded it may be, it is a thought only. Broussard didn’t deny anybody their rights, he simply expressed his prejudicial and rather antiquated view on homosexuality.

      • Lulu.T.O. says:

        Being gay is no more a sin than than telling a lie. It’s how you live your life as a Christian that matters. The Bible is clear on this.. It’s not a matter of prejudice or bigotry. Nothing so simple as that.

  9. teehee says:

    Also great! The field is really vicious toward the LBGT (?) community so him doing this really is a huge step forward for everyone.

  10. doofus says:

    “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.”

    I can’t even imagine having to live a lie like that. So happy that he was able to come out on his own terms and that he can now just be…HIMSELF.

    “and this is how the world changes.”

    very well said, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

  11. fabgrrl says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! Chelsea Clinton is 34-ish? Damn, I feel old.

  12. Jess says:

    The essay is fantastic and I’m so glad he’s getting so much support, but it’s just depressing that this is such a big deal.

  13. GoodCapon says:

    Good for him! I agree with everyone here, that was a beautiful essay.

  14. Sloane Wyatt says:

    What a beautiful, brave man!

  15. fabgrrl says:

    You know, I’m biased and tend to think that athletes just coast through college and don’t worry about academics. But clearly Jason Collins can write a coherent, well-organized essay!

  16. WendyNerd says:

    THIS IS SOOO GREAT!!! GO JASON COLLINS! AND HE PLAYS FOR DC, MY HOMETOWN! I AM SO EXCITED BY THIS!!!

    I am really proud that we’ve reached a point in our society and country where a pro-athlete can come out. We’ve made progress and that breeds hope. Sure, we have a a dizzying number of miles to go, but seeing signs of honest to goodness progress makes me feel that we will get there. Mr. Collins has done a great, brave thing that will undoubtedly pave the way for numerous other LGBTQIA people and athletes. His grandmother is partially right, he is in a way opening himself up to prejudice by coming out, but that’s what makes this so important. The more people who stand in the face of hatred and decide to tough it out and be who they are and not apologize for it are the ones who help change minds and are the top generals in the war against bigotry. It’s a huge responsibility in many ways, especially when, like Mr. Collins, you’re the first in your career path to do so. When you take such a risk, and you do it in such a intelligent, eloquent and humble manner as he has, you are striking a blow for the disenfranchised in the best way. There will undoubtedly be some bullshit thrown his way, but I hope that he is able to stay strong and that he is able to continue to have a fine career in the NBA. He has my support and I hope dearly that he will have the support of the Association, his teammates and the professional sports community at large. If so, this will not just be the announcement that a man is coming out, but that there are more doors open than previously imagined by many who are made to feel like outsiders because they are different. And I’m not just talking about closet doors, either. Congratulations, Mr. Collins, I now intend to wear your number.

  17. jj says:

    Mile stone in equality ,will go a long way to further gay rights cause especially in professional sports,but need more professional athletes to come out,to move cause even further.
    I am certain that he is not the only one in the NBA.

  18. JennJ says:

    That headline shocked me. The first???
    I don’t follow basketball, but I guess that I had assumed that someone must have come out of the closet by now. Wow.
    Good for him. That must have taken a lot of courage.

    • L says:

      First of the big 4 (football, basketball, hockey, baseball) that has come out when still a active player

      There has been several that came out after retirement. Hopefully this gives strength to the other athletes closeted in the big 4.

    • Kate says:

      I’m disputing the “first” thing just a bit. John Amechi, who played in the NBA, came out several years ago, albeit a couple of years after he retired. I think saying Collins is an “active” player is a little generous. Yes, he just played this season, but he is a free agent and not currently signed with a team. In all likelihood, his playing days are over (not because of this announcment, but because he’s just not that good of a player anymore and he’s 34 years old). So, while I applaud him for coming out, I don’t consider him to be the “first.” He was simply able to garner sufficient publicity for it since the media is pushing this issue right now (thanks to the rumors about Manti Te’o being gay, etc.)

      • Kim says:

        John retired years before coming out this guy is a free agent big difference

      • Kate says:

        I don’t think the difference between being retired a couple of years and coming out when your playing career is all but finished is that great. Collins averaged a point a game and played in roughly 1/2 the games his team played. I’m just saying “active” is a little generous as is “first.” I’m not disputing his message or his courage; I’m disputing the media hype surrounding it.

      • Kim says:

        So if he gets signed to a team he will be the first openly gay player to play in the NBA.Amechi didn’t even try to continue his career after coming out.Big difference. There have been dozens of pro players to come out after retiring in NFL,NBA and MLB
        Amechie was not the first Kopay was.

      • Mac says:

        It sounds like a clever ploy to remain in the NBA and further the cause of gay activism.

        By placing the onus to hire a washed-up player on the NBA because of his sexual preference he has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

        If he doesn’t sign with a team it will be because of his playing ability but will automatically be deemed discrimination.

    • TrustMeOnThis says:

      Well, there was Billie Jean King, back in the ’70s. I think the distinction is that he is the first man in the big-money, tv sports world, who was still actively playing. A number have come out in retirement, Ricky Martin style. ;-)

      There have been some NFL (football) players talking about coming out as a group, but so far I guess they haven’t worked it out amongst themselves yet, and Jason beat them to the punch.

      He seems like a great guy! This is so awesome. It’s unfortunate that it is still such a big deal in this day and age, but it is definitely a tipping point. Full civil rights can’t be far behind.

  19. grabbyhands says:

    Mad love and respect for this. I can’t imagine the amount of courage and strength it took to make the decision to come out as an active player knowing the possible backlash he might face.

  20. Jayna says:

    Wow, I just read his full essay in SI. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. What a stunning open letter. He is right. We come in contact with gay people all the time in our communities: lawyers, doctors, judges, city officials, police officers, teachers, etc. Many just don’t realize it and think they know no one around them gay except one or two people.

  21. mel says:

    I think its great! What a brave soul.

  22. Isa says:

    He was a nobody/unknown player just 24 hours ago. Good move dude.

    • Lynn says:

      Sad to me that the only thing you take out of this is that he is getting publicity. And if even I heard of him before his announcement (my husband loves sports, but I don’t), I am guessing he wasn’t all that unknown beforehand.

      • sage says:

        Thank you, like you, even I (non sports fan, but mom to an athlete) had heard of this man before. He made it to the NBA, which immediately tells you something about skill & dedication, & while not a showboat, he was/is REALLY well respected

  23. As a homosexual woman this makes me swell with love and hope. When I started my on-line life as a blogger and vlogger I struggled with if I should or should not include my sexuality. In the end I felt like hiding my wife was a lie and I decided to just live and include it and go on. I am a virtual nobody, but my thought was if someone read or watched something I put out there and realized that we are no different really or if a teenager feeling alone felt like it gets better then my sharing was worth it. While I have gotten my share of hate messages and comments (which I expected) I have to say that the OVERWHELMING love and support I get from my on-line community dwarfs any amount of ugly at least a 1000 times! When I think of my small world on-line and the number of people who have reached out to me thanking me for being honest or letting me know that their opinion of “the gays” has shifted after reading my blog all I can think is that as more Athletes and congressmen and people who are actually seen come out America will continue to grow in acceptance and equality. How awesome a time for our children to grow up in?

    • TrustMeOnThis says:

      Hi Sonya,

      I’d love to check out your site if you are willing to share the link.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I think familiarity is the best weapon against prejudice.

      With so many people (regular folks and celebs) living their lives “out”, it helps people who might be scared or uncomfortable with homosexuality understand it better. I think it helps people understand the LGBT community is made of people, human beings, your friends and neighbors…not aliens that are completely different from you.

      I am a straight woman who has so many friends in the LGBT community, and I have been trying for years to communicate to my more close minded relatives the JOY they are missing by excluding potentially wonderful people from their lives simply because they dont understand. I think everday interactions with gay folks will help people like my grandparents understand far better than my lectures over Thanksgiving dinner. ;) Your blog sounds really wonderful, and it is lovely to think of all the people you might have casually helped along the way!

  24. Dorothy says:

    Hurrah for Jason! I am proud of him for being so brave and true to himself. I read the SI story this am and found it to be so thought provoking. Once he realized that there will be people that truly loved him for him, then it was easy for him to come out!

  25. judyjudy says:

    What a lovely man. Is he the first out, though? I thought there were plenty of others….I don’t really follow sports though so I guess I wouldn’t really know.

  26. Dawn says:

    So not an NBA fan here but good for him. The hardest thing ever is to be the first like this guy. I am sure there are NBA guys ready to knock him down while they think it’s all cool to have ten kids with 8 different women which is far worse to me than being gay. Good luck to him!

    • krat says:

      This is a common sentiment I hear, and I always wonder the same thing- do you feel that homosexuality is bad? Generally saying something is worse than another thing implies that both are bad. I promise I am not trying to attack here, merely wondering.

  27. Lauli says:

    What a lovely and honest man. Congrats for coming out.

  28. Lilo says:

    Oh and, by the way…gay or not, he’s hot. I’d hit that.

  29. Laura says:

    I don’t understand why people feel the need to announce their sexuality/sexual preferences. Who gives a sh*t about which gender an individual likes to have sex with? Why is this always seen as an accomplishment or something to be proud of? What people do in their bedrooms for sexual satisfaction is nobody’s business and certainly not something to announce to the entire world, in my opinion. I believe everyone – gay, straight, bi-sexual – should have the same rights when it comes to getting married. However, I am SO sick of people announcing their sexuality! I don’t care that this man likes to f**k other men nor do I see it as something to be proud of…anymore than the fact that I am straight is something he would care about or that I should take pride in. Working to better the lives of others or achieving one’s dreams in life (such as starting a family, finishing school, etc) are things to be proud of and merit an announcement. What one does sexually is not and I truly hope these types of announcements stop soon. If not, then I think we should all start announcing our sexual preferences, not just those with bi or gay preferences. Maybe then we would see how completely stupid these announcements, and the pride derived from them, are.

    PS. I am NOT a homophobe nor do I agree with the denial of marital rights for those who are. I just truly do not give a crap about other people’s sexual preferences and I’m sick of hearing about them all the time. I don’t think it’s brave nor a source of pride to announce what or who do you in your bedroom. There should be zero discrimination against a person because of their sexual preferences, though I realize there sometimes is.

    • Keats says:

      Eh, I see what you’re saying, and it kind of annoys me that coming out continues to be a noteworthy thing, since I feel like it creates a rift between the gay and straight communities in a weird way (kind of reminds us that we’re still separate cultures, if that makes sense). However, for a professional basketball player to come out? This is seriously a major thing.

      • Jayna says:

        Well, it’s not a big deal to you, but it continues to be a big thing because a big portion of our society still considers them abnormal, sinning, freaks, fights their rights to be married. The more they live openly as gay, the more it will become normal in all parts of society, but for many it takes years to get the courage to come out. Listening to my friends’ stories or even go to Gaga’s site and read what so many gay youth go through. It is heartbreaking.

        These kinds of announcements are huge to all of the closeted gays and/or gay teens who are afraid to come out to their parents or feel they will never be a normal part of society, and gays already out. It is a very hard time for many of them. Gay teens are being bullied, are killing themselves. Great strides are being made, but still a long ways to go, and it is a time to celebrate every time some high profile person, especially a professonal athlete, comes out.

      • Kim says:

        If all gays “came out” it wouldnt be an issue. The fact that many remain in the closet is what makes it taboo. If they didnt pose for covers and make it such a big deal it wouldnt be taboo. Calling special attention to yourself for “coming out” does nothing for the gay community and is a slap in the face to those who have never been in the closet & arent ashamed of who they are and dont hide it. The reason for not coming out being society doesnt accept it is b.s. There will always be people who dont accept it – get over it. There will always be racist and sexist people also thats a fact of life not an excuse to hide who you really are. Be proud of who you are man, woman, transexual, gay, straight, etc.

      • Alarmjaguar says:

        I’m sorry, Kim, are you blaming gay people for the fact that society is prejudiced against them!?

    • Malificent says:

      You’re absolutely right — people’s private lives with other consenting adults shouldn’t be anyone else’s business. Some good day in the future, a gay NBA player shouldn’t even warrant a conversation for anything other than his playing ability and public behavior.

      But that day isn’t now, and for Jason to speak out in an industry and community that is still very homophobic is a big deal. Statements like these need to continue to be made until homophobia and intolerance are only discussed in history classes.

    • Kim says:

      Yeah I don’t see why heterosexuals feel the need to flaunt their sexuality by announcing their marriages,engagements,putting up pics of their heterosexual families
      KEEP your private life private. STOP announcing you are pregnant I don’t want to think about you having sex

    • lucy says:

      I could not agree more. Very well said, Laura!

      Let’s all just treat each other with respect and give each other benefit of the doubt.

      What was that that MLK Jr said? “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Matters not to me that this dude is gay, black, athletic, married, a father, a brother, Puerto Rican, Asian, hetero, German, whatEVER. All that matters is that he is a considerate conscientious honest responsible kind compassionate respectful human being.

    • videli says:

      Laura,

      Your comment is nothing but common sense, but: the coming out of this male black athlete might be useful for this male black student of mine, who’s playing in the college football team. He pretty much came out to me last month. He’s 19, and I’ve never seen anybody that shy and sad at the same time. We live in a pretty culturally conservative city. I’m not sure about his family support. And most importantly, he doesn’t have the vocabulary and the mental tools to help him come out, though I’m sure he will have the courage. Examples like Jason’s could help him.

    • lee says:

      Laura, I understand that you are not a homophobe and you don’t hate LGBTQ people or want to deny the right to marry, etc, but I still think you need to check your beliefs. Your continually seem to equate being gay with sex, which is only a very small part of life for ALL people. The bigger part is falling in love, starting a family, living life in all of the ways straight people do. Reducing LGBTQ people to sexual acts is actually a common tactic that serves to dehumanize us.

      It also seems like you completely fail to understand that coming out in this day and age IS a way of helping others. Studies have shown that knowing an LGBTQ person makes one more likely to support equal rights for LGBTQ people and for kids who are questioning their own sexuality or struggling with the idea that they are ‘different’, seeing someone who is not only out but successful shows them that they can be too. It gives hope to a group that makes up as much as 40% of the homeless youth population in spite of representing less than 10% of the general youth population, a group that is 4 to 5 times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight counterparts. In my view, being visible as a source of hope to those kids IS working to better the lives of others and IS definitely something to be proud of.

      And the last thing, you should also be aware that straight people DO also come out all the time! Exactly in the ways that Kim delightfully illustrated! Every time you hold hands with your significant other or have a public wedding or use male pronouns to describe your partner or use the words ‘boyfriend’ or ‘husband’, you are telling the world that you are in a straight relationship. Hopefully one day soon, that will be the only type of coming out that LGBTQ people will have to do too, but until that day, these types of announcements will continue to happen.

    • TrustMeOnThis says:

      It isn’t an announcement about sex. Reducing it to sex is homophobic in itself, and saying “I’m not homophobic” is not a magic spell that is automatically true just because you say so.

      People still judge others for being gay, and when someone who is respected and looked up to comes out, it makes a real difference in the lives of real people. It helps some overcome their homophobia, and it gives others hope that it is ok to be who they are, despite the fact that they are frequently told otherwise.

      If you can’t see how this affects people’s lives, you’re blinded by your straight privilege. As is often mentioned on this site, if you don’t like it, there is a lot of other reading material available on the internet.

      • BeesKnees says:

        So true! It is very easy for a straight person to say “who care’s about sexual orientation, be who you are, just come out already.” Yeah, tell that to my cousin who grew up in a very conservative Catholic community and told me she felt like an outcast growing up and was afraid of coming out and being ostracized by the community. She hates to come back to her hometown to visit her parents. Last October she called me crying because she saw rows of houses with signs that said “Vote No on Question 6″ (that was the question on marriage equality in Maryland) and she said she felt rejected by the place she grew up. She is out now and living in a very LBGT friendly community in Baltimore, but back home people are not so welcoming. I also hate people equating homosexuality with sex acts. Heterosexual relationships are about way more than sex, and so are homosexual ones. And it would appear “I’m not a homophobe but…” is the new “I’m not a racist but…”

      • Mia says:

        @Trustmeonthis- Your comment is fantastic, and tells it like it is: To relegate LGBT relationships to sexual activity is insulting and homophobic, and steeped in unexamined straight privilege. Totally borrowing this for future conversations as well. ;-) Preach!

    • linlin says:

      There are still plenty of people who believe that gay people are different to straight people, like that gay people have to be “effeminate” and can’t like or be good at “manly” sports. Many gay kids who don’t fit the stereotype of the broadway & fasion loving effeminate gay feel isolated, particularly those who grew up in more conservative surroundings and withouth knowing many queer people, alone and different because they feel they are different from their heterosexual peers but also don’t feel like they have anything in common with the gay people they see on TV (which are often very stereotypical, although it has gotten somehow better) so for them its very important to have somebody out there who they can identify with. It also can help reduce stereotypes with hopefully some straight people realizing, that you can be gay and be a professional athlete (one should think everybody knows this today, but it isn’t so. Many ignorant and stupid statements by professional athletes nonetheless prove this). One day people won’t have to come out like this because it won’t be anything truly special and the fact that a athlete is dating or marrying somebody of the same sex won’t be treated any differently than those who are dating people of the opposite gender, but that he is the first to openly acknowledge that he is gay while still playing proves that its still necessary for people to come out officially.

  30. Elceibeno says:

    Well, I guess when he goes to the shower room after a game, the other players will cover their penises, which I think it’s funny because they leave their asses vulnerable.

    • guilty pleasures says:

      Are you seriously trying to be a complete a-hole? Because you are.
      Your comment and glibness are the reasons people commit suicide or live in fear and depression. Educate yourself, and in the meantime, get off this site.

      • elceibeno08 says:

        My comment refers to the homophobia that inevitably Jason Collins will have to face now that he has officially come out of the closet as an gay man. I am a gay man myself and I was bullied since first grade all the way to my senior year in high school. Trust me, even now in the year 2013 many straight men will feel uncomfortable having Jason taking showers in the same room as them. Those men will get paranoid that Jason is staring at their penises and they will face the wall to block his view, which exposes their behinds. Don’t tell me about living in fear and having thoughts of suicide for being gay, I know it first hand. Perhaps my comment was not written in the best way to express my thoughts but you should collect more information before judging. I am very, very, very proud of Jason Collins for having the guts to come out of the closet. He is paving the way for many other gay men now and in the future. You have no right to tell me to get off this site. This website’s staff is pretty assertive and they will ban me if they thought I deserve it.

    • guilty pleasures says:

      My apologies in light of this further information. I was reacting to what you originally wrote, with no backstory or reasoning it was a mean and bigoted response to a brave deed.
      I, too, know first hand how other people’s paranoia make some lives unbearable and I lashed out at what appeared to be, on it’s face, the glib musings of a mean-spirited troll.
      Not telling you how to write, but perhaps you can understand how your comment appeared to me.

  31. LouLou says:

    It’s sort of refreshing that so many people are asking the questions: What is the big deal? Who cares? That some people really do not understand the significance means our world has come a long way. However, it’s important to understand the history as well as the present. In many states a person can legally be fired simply for being gay. Yes, it’s true. Look it up. Also, plenty of people feel entitled to beat the crap out of openly gay people. It’s a big deal to have a male athlete come out. It’s a really big deal.

  32. Brittney says:

    I’m so glad he included this line, and I hope others take note: “I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.”

    This sentiment represents an increasingly vocal percentage of the Christian population. I may not worship Jesus (or any other deity), but I’ve read the Bible and studied his life, and I’m thrilled that more and more Christians approach homosexuality according to the basic tenets of Jesus’s teachings (love without judgment), rather than twisting his principles entirely and using obscure Bible passages to justify their hate.

  33. lucy2 says:

    What a great essay, and he seems like a great guy. This was pretty courageous of him to do publicly, and I think he’ll give hope to a lot of younger people out there facing the same issues.

    Laura – I don’t think anyone is required to come out or make their private lives public, but I give credit to those who do – these are people who have been forced to live with secrets out of fear of bigotry and intolerance. Being able to stand up say they are who they are, especially for a pro athlete like this, is a big part in overcoming all of that, and making it not such a big deal anymore.

  34. guilty pleasures says:

    Well done, young man. A well reasoned and touching essay which will go far in helping to further understanding, and encouraging other people to embrace who they are.
    I am so proud of Jason, and wish him well in the future. I see big things for him, bigger than basketball.

  35. Ellie66 says:

    Lol! I thought it said Joan Collins had come out as a gay athlete…damn not enough coffee. :D as for Jason Collins good for him and I wish all the best for this excellent young man! :)

  36. videli says:

    What a great read his essays was! I’m a little biased against athletes when it comes to their academic prowess, so, I’m impressed. I’m not holding my breath for an active NFL player to come out, though. Respects to the Ravens and Browns players who support marriage equality – and I’m a Steelers fan!

  37. danielle says:

    Wonderful and brave of him to do this!

  38. yeahright says:

    Honestly, who cares.

    I do think that little quote that he ended with “I am happy to get the conversation started” is cute though. Its like he was being sensationalized and knows it but just went with it since its an historic moment.

  39. jaye says:

    I’m so happy that he no longer has to hide who he is and that his family has been supportive. I watch a youtube video where a young man was recounting his coming out experience and it broke my heart. His mom degraded him and threw him out. When my cousin came out to my grandma, she called him a spawn of the devil. She never treated him the same way after that. That broke my heart because he was the same David AFTER he came out as he was before. That’s what I want to ask anyone who reacts with horror and disdain when a loved one comes out to them. How is this person that you loved 5 minutes before he or she told you they were gay any different now? I consider myself a Christian but the condemnation of people in the LBGT community hurts my heart. How can you be a reflection of God, who is said to love His children warts and all, if you can’t do the same?

  40. KellyinSeattle says:

    I admire how well-worded his essay was.

  41. I Choose Me says:

    I read his essay yesterday in another article. Love what he had to say and I’m glad that he ‘came out’ on his own terms. I’m also pleased to hear that he’s getting so much support.

  42. StaCat1 says:

    Wish this wasn’t such a big deal- but we have a ways to go with equal rights (for LGBT, women and minorities still).

    But kudos to him for having the bravery to “raise his hand”.

    Good for him and good for all of us!

  43. linlin says:

    Never heard of him before since I am not that much into sports and not American, but he sounds intelligent, articulate and nice! Hope a true superstar at the height of his fame comes out soon. As an European I also hope a famous soccer player will come out soon.

  44. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    Good luck to him. Interesting essay. Can’t be easy facing being a black gay athlete, but the support is encouraging.

  45. Pixie says:

    This is just brilliant. Not ashamed to admit I bawled like a baby reading his essay. I just hope more men can find Jason Collins’ strength and live the lives they want to, not the lives they feel they have to.

  46. Karen81 says:

    His ex-finace is absolutely shocked about him being gay. I hope he wasn’t just using her for appearances sake and never really planned on being with her in the long run. Those are 8 years of her life she will never back.

  47. Mia says:

    I read this earlier today and I completely applaud him. I think it’s brave that he did this before he retired, with the full knowledge that he might have been going back into the lion’s den..male sports tend to be so hyper-masculine it’s difficult for anyone who deviates from that paradigm to feel like they fit in. I hope his teammates in the locker room don’t treat him like a sexually deviant pariah and I’m seriously hoping none of the idiot fans who like to shout slurs at players heckle him too much.

  48. Adrien says:

    Good for him. The last time an NBA player came out was 6 years ago with John Amaechi but he was already retired. I remember that Tim Hardaway made nasty comments about him Amaechi’s coming out saying he’ll be wary of him in the lockeroom. Tim apologized since. Hopefully the world now matured and Jason Collins would never get those kinds of remarks.

  49. lala says:

    i’m completely liberal & believe that everyone should be able to live & love equally under the law. the thing that really bothers me though is that no one is bothering to mention that this man selfishly stole eight years of a woman’s life by forcing her to live his lie too. what about his fiancee that gave up almost a decade of her life unknowingly engaged to a gay man? her words were that she “invested [eight] years in my dream to have a husband, soul mate, and best friend in him”. everyone loves giving gay people a pat on the back for coming out since it takes courage. this is true. but i think what really takes courage is not only to come out but to also acknowledge the enormous hurt you’ve caused the people in your life by continually lying to them. admitting that you did the WRONG thing by pretending to be straight due to your own fears is what really takes courage in my opinion. just because society may persecute you for your sexual orientation, it does not excuse all the you lying you did, and the lives you’ve damaged as a result, while you were trying to live your life as a lie in-the-closet.

  50. hmm says:

    It’s 2013. Why do people still care if you’re gay? It’s none of your gd business!