In a moving piece in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated, veteran basketball player Jason Collins came out as gay today. The center, who’s spent the past 12 years playing with the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, among other teams, says he was inspired to go public in the wake of the Boston bombing.
“The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?” he wrote. “No one wants to live in fear. I’ve always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don’t sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly.”
Collins is the first openly gay NBA player. Collins says that he actually used to date women — and was even engaged to one — but always knew he liked men. “I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.” After wrestling with it for years, he privately came out to several family members before publicly making a statement, many of whom said they’d always known he was actually gay.
As for what Collins’ future holds, he says he’s happy he’s out now, so he can focus on the next season of play. As for how he’ll handle homophobia on the court, he hopes to be able to “sit down with any player who’s uneasy.” After all, he says, “Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.” [Sports Illustrated]