THANK YOU JASON COLLINS.
I am happy history has now been made. Jason Collins, an active (non-retired) professional athlete, has come out of the closet. Correction. A black non-stereotypical gay athlete has come out of the closet. He did it boldly and proudly not via a vague coded letter over his tumbler account.
Like rejecting the ball from an opponent who is attempting to score, Collins is a rejection of the typical feminine, flamboyant black gay caricature that dominates the media.
He was not “outed” by some jilted scheming ex-lover with dreams of fame. He was not exposed by any of the numerous gossip websites who hope to be the first to get the “scoop” on breaking scandal.
He did it on his terms and with style and class. He did it his way. He invited two Sports Illustrated writers to his home and made his public declaration. He simply stated, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay” thus gaining his power.
Collins has played for six teams in 12 NBA seasons and has been a starter in two Finals. Why did he do it? He states that he came Out because he was “tired.”
“Tired of being alone, tired of coming home to an empty house, tired of relying on his German Shepherd (Shadow), for company, tired of watching friends and family members find spouses and become parents, tired of telling lies and half-truths and using “cover stories”.
He stated “The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less than three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future”
Collins also stated “When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.”
Does this sound familiar?
He goes onto say “Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I’m a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.”
As I have stated before, sometime solitude can be a virtue. At some point in your life, you have to deal with who you really are as a person.
Unlike some other players in the NBA, NFL and MLB, Collins is a 34-year-old, well spoken, intelligent man. You have never heard of Collins fighting in some club, being arrested for DUI or soliciting male prostitutes. So far (and I don’t think this will change) he has lived his life discreetly.
He says in the Sports Illustrated interview, “The biggest concern seems to be that gay players will behave unprofessionally in the locker room. Believe me; I’ve taken plenty of showers in 12 seasons. My behavior wasn’t an issue before, and it won’t be one now. My conduct won’t change. I still abide by the adage, What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. I’m still a model of discretion.”Already the accolades of encouragement have begun to pour in. From Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Bill Clinton, and Russell Simmons all are offering their support.
Notable Quotes From The Sports Illustrated Article
“I’m the guy on the court who doesn’t like to draw attention to himself, who wants to lead by example.”
“Personally, I don’t like to dwell in someone else’s private life, and I hope players and coaches show me the same respect.”
“I’ve never sought the spotlight. Though I’m coming out to the world, I intend to guard my privacy.”
Thank You, Jason Collins, for showing us the power of living in your truth. Thank You for showing us that intelligent masculine black gay men exist and finally, Thank You for proving there is absolutely nothing wrong with living your life discreetly.
You can read the full story at Sports Illustrated.
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