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Jason Collins: Trailblazer

Jason Collins.  Active NBA player and gay man.

Jason Collins. Active NBA player and gay man.

Finally.  An active player from one of the four major American sports leagues has finally “come out” of the closet.  It’s long overdue and frankly I’m surprised it has taken as long as it has.

The intrepid soul who came out is Jason Collins, a Center, most recently for the Washington Wizards.  He bravely announced that he is gay via a Sports Illustrated article last Monday.  Per the article, Collins is quoted as saying the following:

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.

First of all, kudos to you, Jason, for having the guts to do what no one else ever has.  Sure, other athletes have come out, but not until their playing days are over.  It took a tremendous amount of courage to do this, and I applaud you for it.

Owned.

Owned.

I vehemently agree with Collin’s statement that someone else should have already done this.  Sports is the last major landscape where homosexuality has yet to be accepted.  Actors such as Ellen DeGenerous, Ian McKellen, George Takei, and Neil Patrick Harris are openly gay and astonishingly successful (true story, bro).  Musicians such as Ricky Martin, Clay Aiken, Adam Lambert, and Melissa Etheridge have all come out and remained successful.  Yet no athlete has ever come out of the closet during his playing days.  Homophobia runs rampant in locker rooms overflowing with testosterone, bigotry, and masculinity.

You should be able to be who you are without fear of scorn or criticism whether it’s from sexual orientation, skin color, age, or gender.  Yet here was Collins trying to be something he’s not.  He tried dating women.  He was even engaged to one at some point.  He spent his entire life trying to be accepted by society instead of simply being who he was, and that’s a shame that society is still so harsh and unaccepting that people feel the need to hide who they are.  It’s unacceptable that people still feel the need to wear masks and hide within facades to avoid judgement and criticism.

I fully support Jason and his decision to come out.  I understand that being gay isn’t a decision he consciously made.  I know he didn’t wake up one day and decide to play for the other team.  He was born that way.  The same way he was born with black skin.  The same way I was born straight.  The same way I was born with white skin.  The same way I was born with depression.  The same way YOU, dearest reader, were born with whatever parts you possess (male or female), whatever color skin you have, and whatever color eyes you have.  It’s a part of him he shouldn’t have to hide from anyone for fear of ridicule.

Jason is currently a free agent and it will be telling if he’s not signed by another team during the coming year.  What team will be willing to embrace the publicity that’s undoubtedly going to come with his signing?  Will the locker room of said team accept Jason?  How will opponents react when playing against him?  The NBA has a fantastic opportunity to make a dramatically positive statement here and I hope they seize it.

Many people have come out in support of Jason’s announcement, including President Obama (not that I care what he has to say), NBA commissioner David Stern, Kobe Bryant, Doc Rivers, former President Bill Clinton (he still hasn’t inhaled), and Karl Malone.  I applaud those folks for their endorsement of Jason’s decision, which could not have been easy.

Predictably, other athletes took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with Collins’ declaration.  I won’t give them any more air time here than they’ve already had, but I would ask that you really analyze why you dislike a gay person.  What is the reasoning behind it?  Is it because you don’t understand it?  Why do you need to?  Is it because you’re homophobic?  Get over it.  I have.  Is it because they’re different?  So what?  You’re unique, too.  Just like everyone else.

The bottom line is that everyone deserves to be loved.  Everyone.  Nobody should be shunned or ridiculed simply for being who they are.  Put yourself in their shoes.  How would you feel if you were being bullied, insulted, or worse just for being something you cannot change?  Have some compassion.  No one is saying that you have to like it, but you should respect it.

Jason Collins is a trailblazer, a pioneer, and a hero.  Here’s hoping that many more follow him down this courageous path.

 

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Discussion

47 thoughts on “Jason Collins: Trailblazer

  1. Amen! Beautifully stated! I’m right here with you on this one!

    Like

    Posted by littlemisswordy | May 6, 2013, 12:30 pm
  2. I’m glad you feel that way, cause I might be part alien.

    Like

    Posted by twindaddy | May 6, 2013, 12:51 pm
  3. Why does it matter if we are gay or straight, it’s really no one else business, no one has a right to judge another.

    Like

    Posted by behindthemaskofabuse | May 6, 2013, 1:18 pm
  4. You know, some of us Right-Wing Conservatives are pretty decent people. We even have gay friends and shit.

    If Collins doesn’t get a new contract in the NBA, it could be because he’s 34 years old (ancient in pro athlete age) and he’s just not a very good player according to NBA Standards. He is, however, a very smart young man with a degree from Stanford. He’ll land a nice job somewhere in the real world where he’ll be judge by his job performance and the content of his character , not his gayness. I’m fairly certain that his life after the NBA will be a very fulfilling one.
    Having said that, I greatly admire his courage for coming out like he did. It must have been quite an ordeal for him to pretend to be something he’s not.

    There are some peripheral issues to this story that I won’t go into here, so suffice it to say that I wish Jason Collins a long, healthy and happy life.

    He’s a brave young man and a good role model for young people everywhere – even the kids of Right-Wing Conservative nut jobs like me.

    .

    Like

    Posted by Fearless Leader | May 6, 2013, 1:21 pm
    • I didn’t mention right-wing conservatives in this post, you know. This post was aimed at ANYONE who has a problem with someone specifically because they are gay. It was also meant as adulation for Collins’ courage in coming out and facing possible ridicule, scorn, and notoriety for simply being something that’s still not accepted in many circles, mainly one he happens to be in.

      34 IS old by NBA standards, but he was still good enough to finish on an NBA roster last year. And if he does get signed it’ll still be interesting to see how his teammates embrace him and the press that’s going to come with him.

      Like

      Posted by twindaddy | May 6, 2013, 1:30 pm
      • I apologize for combining the response to this story with another one I had open in another browser window, thus the confusion on my part. I think you and I are on the same page on this issue, I just made a mistake in commenting on two different stories in the same comment.
        I also agree that if Collins gets another NBA contract, it will be interesting to see what happens with his new teammates.
        Again, sorry for the goof up…the fault lies squarely on my shoulders.

        Like

        Posted by Fearless Leader | May 6, 2013, 1:47 pm
  5. It’s a new world. Thank God.

    Like

    Posted by The Hook | May 6, 2013, 1:32 pm
  6. What difference does it make if you’re gay or not? We’re all people in the end! I just don’t understand.

    Great post, btw. I like the way you write.

    Like

    Posted by MissFourEyes | May 6, 2013, 2:10 pm
    • Thanks, NBG! I don’t know why it matters, but it does to a lot of people.

      The bottom line is that I will treat you with the same respect you with which you treat me. That’s how I was raised. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, gay, straight, male, female, etc.

      Like

      Posted by twindaddy | May 6, 2013, 2:12 pm
  7. Very well said. I hope one day that this isn’t news, but until then it needs to be.

    I am against dragging people out of the closet, but here’s hoping gay or even bi players on the MLB, NHL and NFL are able to join their voices to his next.

    Like

    Posted by sortaginger | May 6, 2013, 2:28 pm
  8. I grew up in rural middle America and as a kids this was not a thing I knew about. I was not even aware until I was a teenager. I admit that part of it bothered me but I was ignorant and uneducated. It did not take me long to get over it. In high school I had several friends come out to me first. I was told it was because they trusted me and did not think I would make a big deal out of it. It turns out that it is true, I had questions, I felt that I needed to know more about the culture and the facts so I can be a better friend but that was it.
    Now days I wonder why this is a thing at all. It should not be more of a topic than how tall you are or why you have blonde hair, it is just who you are and it does not really impact anyone other than you. Even if you are a celebrity, Collins is still the same excellent athlete that he is before and after the fact. This new reveal changes nothing about who he is and it certainly has nothing to do with his fans.
    If I had not made my point, I am pro “being who you are” as open as you want with out anyone making you feel that you should not. I only wish it could be to the point where it did not have to be celebrated because you are no longer being prosecuted. Does that make sense or am I off my rocker?

    Like

    Posted by Animockery | May 6, 2013, 3:05 pm
  9. About time too. All we need now is the Church of England to follow suit. Oh, hang on, it does have openly gay clergy, it just tries to pretend it doesn’t.

    I’ll try to remember Jason Collins in my prayers because he’s sure as anything going to need them.

    Like

    Posted by faithhopechocolate | May 6, 2013, 3:06 pm
  10. Nothing I can add to that, just wanted to throw you a hells yeah for it ;) oh, and that I want to see Hugo Weaving in one of those Get Over It shirts, because it would be a list of bad ass characters…

    Like

    Posted by stankmeaner | May 6, 2013, 9:02 pm
  11. You’ve put this better than any commentary I’ve read. Thanks on so many levels.

    Like

    Posted by 1jaded1 | May 6, 2013, 9:13 pm
  12. Bra-effing-vo to him! And to you for writing a great post to go along with the news :)

    Like

    Posted by the_lunatic | May 7, 2013, 2:31 am
  13. Well written post!!

    Like

    Posted by Polysyllabic Profundities | May 7, 2013, 7:19 am
  14. Robbie Rogers – American Professional Soccer Player (has represented his country on several occasions and played for club teams foreign and domestic) came out in February and retired on the same day… However, he has recently decided that he may not have needed to retire and was seen practicing with the Los Angeles Galaxy to try and get back in shape so he can get picked up by a team again. I, for one, hope he does get back into the league (and does join the Galaxy). He is a fantastic footballer.

    Like

    Posted by djmatticus | May 7, 2013, 12:17 pm
  15. I, naively, thought “ah, the professional athletes who are freaked about it will be to ashamed to speak up.” But I forgot about the brain-dump of Twitter. Better, I think, that it’s out there, though, to remind us how brave and how difficult what he did is. I suppose in many ways it makes sense that athletics is the “final frontier,” so I’m glad it’s being breached.

    Like

    Posted by The Byronic Man | May 7, 2013, 12:24 pm
  16. You know this is a very close and dear topic to my heart. Loved this!

    Like

    Posted by hastywords | May 8, 2013, 11:52 am

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