Rumors about a gay pro athlete coming out of the closet have been swirling for months, but while all eyes have been on the NFL, NBA center Jason Collins swoops in with a revelation we’ve all been waiting for.
In a personal essay that will be published in Sports Illustrated on May 6, Collins, an NBA free agent who’s been bouncing around the league for 12 years, says “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” An excerpt from the letter, taken from deadspin.com reads:
As I write this, I haven’t come out to anyone in the NBA. I’m not privy to what other players say about me. Maybe Mike Miller, my old teammate in Memphis, will recall the time I dropped by his house in Florida and say, “I enjoyed being his teammate, and I sold him a dog.” I hope players swap stories like that. Maybe they’ll talk about my character and what kind of person I am.
As far as the reaction of fans, I don’t mind if they heckle me. I’ve been booed before. There have been times when I’ve wanted to boo myself. But a lot of ill feelings can be cured by winning.
I’m a veteran, and I’ve earned the right to be heard. I’ll lead by example and show that gay players are no different from straight ones. I’m not the loudest person in the room, but I’ll speak up when something isn’t right. And try to make everyone laugh.
I’ve never sought the spotlight. Though I’m coming out to the world, I intend to guard my privacy. I’m making this blanket statement in part to keep rumors and misunderstandings at bay. I hope fans will respect me for raising my hand. And I hope teammates will remember that I’ve never been an in-your-face kind of guy. All you need to know is that I’m single. I see no need to delve into specifics.
Well, the glass backboard has been shattered, and hopefully this will open a door for other athletes to follow suit. You can read the rest of his letter on firstname.lastname@example.org.