Monday, April 29, 2013
NBA Center Jason Collins is Gay
Jason Collins admitted that he is gay and proud of it. He has become the first active player in major US professional sports to come out as gay.
In an article on Sports Illustrated website, Collins writes about his sexual orientation:
"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."
"I endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie."
"If you're in the league, and I haven't been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates' teammates. Or one of your teammates' teammates' teammates."
"I take charges and I foul - that's been my forte. ... I set picks with my 7-foot, 255-pound body to get guys like Jason Kidd, John Wall and Paul Pierce open. I sacrifice myself for other players."
"I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: That guy is gay? But I've always been an aggressive player, even in high school. Am I so physical to prove that being gay doesn't make you soft? Who knows? That's something for a psychologist to unravel."
"I'm glad I'm coming out in 2013 rather than 2003. The climate has shifted; public opinion has shifted. And yet we still have so much farther to go. Everyone is terrified of the unknown, but most of us don't want to return to a time when minorities were openly discriminated against."
"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. 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.”
About the reaction of his fellow NBA players "The simple answer is, I have no idea."
"Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start. It all comes down to education. I'll sit down with any player who's uneasy about my coming out. Still, if I'm up against an intolerant player, I'll set a pretty hard pick on him. And then move on."
"I don't mind if they heckle me. I've been booed before. There have been times when I've wanted to boo myself. But a lot of ill feelings can be cured by winning. I hope fans will respect me for raising my hand. And I hope teammates will remember that I've never been an in-your-face kind of guy. All you need to know is that I'm single. I see no need to delve into specifics."
"Some people insist they've never met a gay person. But Three Degrees of Jason Collins dictates that no NBA player can claim that anymore. Pro basketball is a family. And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who's gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who's out."
Collins told his brother Jarron that he was gay last summer.
"He was downright astounded. He never suspected. So much for twin telepathy. But by dinner that night, he was full of brotherly love. For the first time in our lives, he wanted to step in and protect me."
Collins has been a journeyman in the NBA, he played for six teams in 12 seasons he is now with the Washington Wizards after being traded by the Boston Celtics. He is now a free agent.
He was a first-round draft pick in 2001 and averages 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds for the New Jersey Nets, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Hawks, and Celtics.
By coming out he receives a lot of support from a lot of people:
Injured Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant tweeted, "Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others" "courage" "support"
Billie Jean King, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame who confirmed she was gay said, "We've got to get rid of the shame. That's the main thing. And Jason's going to help that. He's going to help give people courage to come out. I guarantee you he's going to feel much lighter, much freer. The truth does set you free, there's no question. It doesn't mean it's easy. But it sets you free."
President of Washington Wizards, Ernie Grunfeld said: "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."
Boston Cetics coach Doc Rivers; "I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He's a pro's pro. He is the consummate professional and he is one of my favorite 'team' players I have ever coached." "If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance."
Nike released statement: "We admire Jason's courage and are proud that he is a Nike athlete. Nike believes in a level playing field where an athlete's sexual orientation is not a consideration."
Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward said; "I would say the NHL has been a force to kind of obviously embrace and encourage. ... What (Collins) did, I think it's definitely (good) for basketball, and the same for hockey, too. It's going to be encouraging for more guys to step up and just be open about themselves."
Wizards guard Garrett Temple said: "I was surprised. I didn't know and I was right next to him in the locker room. It definitely took a lot of courage for him to come out. He was a great teammate."
Bradley Beal said: "I didn't know about it! I don't think anyone did! I am proud of his decision to come out and express the way he feels and I'm supportive of that!"
Jerry Stackhouse of the Brooklyn Nets said: "I hope Jason is received well by our NBA family. Jason is a friend and a former teammate that I've enjoyed many laughs and conversations with and his sexual orientation won't change that with me. I've already reached out to him personally to show support and will encourage more guys to do the same."
David Stern NBA Commissioner statement about Jason Collins: "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."
Former NBA's John Amaechi who is also gay said: "I think he is immensely brave. I think it's a shame in this day and age he has to be immensely brave, but he is. He's going to be a remarkable and eloquent spokesperson for what it is to be a decent, authentic human being - never mind just for gay people."
Rick Welts president of Golden State Warriors who is also gay: "He probably knows what he signed up for. There'll be a whole bunch more television reporters and cameras than he's probably had in the past. ... There had been a long of speculation about when, who, how. I think that speculation has been put to rest now. and we'll always remember that Jason Collins was the first man to do this."
Former President Clinton said: "Jason's announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive."
Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass. a college roommate of Collins: "For as long as I've known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he's got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I'm proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend."