Times are changing for gay inclusion in sports. Here are four stories from the month of April that demonstrate gay inclusion may soon be a non-issue.
1) Basketball Player Jason Collins Comes Out
Washington Wizards’ 34-year-old NBA center Jason Collins has come out as gay in a piece appearing in May’s Sports Illustrated, making history as the only openly gay active male athlete playing in any of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States.
The piece opens, saying:
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.
Collins goes on to say in the three page editorial that recent events reminded him of the necessity of living his life authentically:
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.
He also points to March’s Supreme Court hearings and how personal it felt while “nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn’t say a thing.”
Collins, who notes he presents “against the gay stereotype,” acknowledges that loyalty to his team and not wanting to overshadow the game did play a part in the timing of his coming out. He also notes that his “double-life,” hiding his sexuality from his teammates, has isolated him. Now, though, he seems mindful he has the power to change that isolation for other gay sportsmen, closing his article with:
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.
Will more players from across the major leagues come out? Now that the taboo is broken, it certainly seems like change could be in the air.
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