Even if you’re not a sports fan, you may want to pick up a copy of this week’s Sports Illustrated, as it will likely be one talked about for years to come: Washington Wizards backup center Jason Collins comes out of the closet in it, making him the first active professional athlete playing a major team sport in America to do so.
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….
Now I’m a free agent, literally and figuratively. I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.
Go read the whole thing when you have time. Collins wrote it himself and it’s beautiful and powerful. It’ll be interesting to see if this opens the floodgates a bit for others. America, it is changing.
Bonus little known Jason Collins fact: Jason Segel was his backup in high school. True story.