NBA star Jason Collins coming out of the closet is significant because it’s the first time an active gay male professional athlete in the US has ever done this. I honestly didn’t know that until now. I thought Billy Bean had done it a while ago, but from what I can see he came out after he stopped playing baseball, not during.
Collins makes this announcement in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated:
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” Collins says a first-person article. “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.”
Someone has to be first, because I’m certain he’s not the only gay person active in professional sports right now…or in the past. In doing this, and in being so open and honest about it, he’s helping to take away the shame all gay people have been living with for so long. I’m hoping others will follow him and they will stop hiding. And I’m not saying this to single anyone out as gay, or as different. But in doing this men like Collins will help make being gay mean nothing in the future. And being gay will be as normal and accepted as being straight.
In this article, it states the Cubs have been supportive of Collins.
“I think it’s kind of a benign thing,” second baseman Darwin Barney said. “Everyone is connected (to the gay community) in some way, whether it’s a family member or a friend. I have family members that are (gay). That’s the way of life and I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal. I think he’ll be protected just fine and I (wish) the best for him.”
I think this comment from Barney is reflective of the way a lot of people feel nowadays. Others have been just as supportive, including former President Clinton.
“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.”
This is a huge event in gay history. I think when people like Collins do things like this it also helps other closeted gay people realize they aren’t as alone as they think they are, they aren’t as odd as they think they are, and they aren’t the only ones who have weathered the storm so to speak.
Maybe Hollywood will follow the same pattern eventually.