Monday, April 29, 2013

Jason Collins Comes Out - And Now What?

I woke up today to see Jason Collins publicly came out of the closet. As I love to put it these days, he's decided to tell us what he's known for a while so it's more freeing for him to not have to live a secret.

I've seen Collins as a hooper since 1997 when I was in 8th grade and I was fascinated by him and his brother Jarron at Harvard-Westlake High School. Two twins were McDonald's All-Americans and heading to Stanford, where they helped torment UCLA during my high school years.

Jason got off to a better start in the NBA but both he and his brother had solid careers over the past decade. Nothing spectacular but anytime you have put a decade's worth of time in the NBA, you've accomplished your dream.

His announcement today simply means one thing. Our climate is better suited for a gay male athlete to come out. There are many straight allies in the press and more in the locker rooms who have openly said they'll support a gay athlete. Some may still be uncomfortable with it and that's okay. The only way you become comfortable is realizing it's around you and opening your mind regardless if you agree or not.

Collins admitted that one sign of support for the GLBT community was wearing 98 - a reminder of Matthew Shepard's brutal murder in 1998 simply for being a gay man.
Here at the EB Sports Report, I support and commend any athlete who has the courage to publicly be who they are. I support Robbie Rogers, who came out while being a member of the US National Soccer team. It has no bearing on athletic performance and Collins, provided he plays next year, can do much to educate the American public as well as straight allies like Brendan Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe and Kenneth Faried.

Jason Collins also has a great chance to be a role model as a Black gay athlete. There are still far too few prominent gay, Black, male voices and to hear ESPN/CNN contributor LZ Granderson speak so wonderfully about this on Outside the Lines gives me hope that it'll at least make folks more comfortable with it in sports.

Most of us barely raised an eyebrow when Brittney Griner came out soon after being drafted in the WNBA. I hope that at some point, we will do the same when more male athletes come out.

Speaking for me, I commend Griner the same way I commend Collins. She perhaps might have a bigger impact because she has a brighter star and is a decade younger than him. Yet what Collins did should not be overlooked because of the conversation it started. I'm proud of him for his decision.

For a more-thorough look at Collins as well as Chris Broussard's words and my personal evolution, head over to Virgo Gumbo and check out what I've shared there.

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