The first active male athlete in the major American team sports has come out and made it known that he is gay, that athlete is 12-year NBA veteran Jason Collins.
In an extensive account on Sports Illustrated’s web site, Collins and co-author Franz Lidz told the story of Collins’ personal evolution regarding his sexuality and how he slowly revealed himself to his loved ones, including his twin brother Jarron who like Jason played basketball at Stanford and in the NBA. Jason said Jarron was shocked by the news — “so much for twin telepathy” — it remains to be seen what other levels of shock, and unfortunately other emotions (the SI.com comments section is already poppin in a sadly expected way), will be brought forth by this historic revelation.
On Facebook, noted ESPN, CNN commentator and openly gay man LZ Granderson posted, “Now can we move on?” That would seem to be the move, but there’s going to be a lot of deliberation in the immediate future.
This first official shot towards true social freedom within sport was bound to happen and more and more people were pushing for it to happen with op-ed articles and teasing statements to the public like Brandon Ayanbadejo saying that a series of NFL players were to come out soon. Also recently, future women’s basketball icon Brittney Griner came out, another in a line of all-star level female basketball players to come out. It’s always been easier for female athletes to come out, people have long been waiting to see when it will become easier for male athletes to do it, now it seems like that tide has turned.
As this story unfolds, we’re gonna see just what this revelation means to people and to Collins’ place of work. Collins is a free agent currently after spending this past season with the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards and he intends on coming back to the league for the 2013-14 season, a good deal of this revelation sounded like an open pitch to NBA executives, reminding them of his physical prowess in the post and how he still is a viable option for a rotation at the age of 34.
I could only hope that the NBA lives up to its past record as a progressive social organization in regards to things like hiring blacks in executive positions and allowing women to referee on the court. The next NBA season should see the first openly gay active athlete be a part of its narrative as it opens and then it should fade away gently into the background as Collins fulfills his role as a back-up center while wearing the number 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard as he did this past season — or whatever number he wants, maybe No. 1 to represent the new role he plays in sports history. No. 1 of many to come.
— Kyle Means, Regal Radio