Monday, April 29, 2013

A role model to look up to for more than one reason...

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."

So begins an article penned by Jason Collins, a 12-season basketball player who played for the Washington Wizards and Boston Celtics this year, in an article which appears in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated.

For a few weeks, rumors have swirled around the sports world that there were several athletes considering coming out of the closet, although that number has shrunk recently. And with allegations that Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, an outspoken advocate for marriage equality, might be pushed out in favor of a player with less "distractions", the possibility an athlete would take that step seemed less and less a reality.

But Jason Collins has stepped into the limelight. As he said, "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."

Will this be the show of courage that athletes in professional sports need to know it's okay to step forward and be who you are? Will this be an example for boys and men who know they feel different but worry about the stigma to be more comfortable accepting who they are? Will disclosures hamper an athlete's ability to succeed in their sport, or will they face animosity from fans?

Those answers will take time to uncover. But for now, it's easy to say, Bravo, Jason Collins. And thank you for your bravery.

Read more about Collins' story at

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