This story appears in the May 6, 2013, issue of Sports Illustrated.
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
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.
My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.
I've played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you're in the league, and I haven't been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates' teammates. Or one of your teammates' teammates' teammates.
Now I'm a free agent, literally and figuratively. I've reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.
Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I'm a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.
The first relative I came out to was my aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco. Her reaction surprised me. "I've known you were gay for years," she said. From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imagine you're in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know -- I baked for 33 years.
When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.
I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."
Get onto the SI website and post comments, as you can expect, they started out homophobic.
Except for some nut named Jerry, most of the comments seem positive.
Jerry's hardly the only phobe there, he's just one of the few who continues to post, most of the homophobes are hit and run.
Just got this on my CNN "Breaking News"
This is huge. I hope the reception is a positive one.
this is a HUGE story. for you non-sports fans, just be aware this is a major breakthrough, every bit as significant, risky, and brave as jackie robinson being the first black player in baseball.
Why bother about the homophobic comments though, they're so inevitable. Sports is the last bastion of homophobia, it won't change overnight. But thanks to the bravery of people like Collins, it will eventually.
Good for him. Congratulations.
Countdown until this evolves into a racially insensitive sizemeat speculation thread in 3, 2, 1...
What about his cock?
There's no point in dwelling on the SI comments; we've all learned that open comments sections are flypaper for trolls. Open comments = open sewer.
He's not famous so who cares? He's not good looking, so who cares? And finally there's no shirtless pics of him, so WHO CARES?
He's really good-looking.
No, r7. It's huge, but a journeyman at the very end of his career is not comparable to Jackie Robinson. Now if Kevin Durant is next...
He's famous now r12, famous for being first. Apparently we're not going to get any big sports stars out of the closet until non-stars pave the way for them.
[quote]every bit as significant, risky, and brave as jackie robinson being the first black player in baseball.
It's a big deal for sure, but come on now...
I don't care why now. I care he wanted to come out and I congratulate him for that and wish him all the best in the future. May this handsome guy, whose smile is so stunning have a bright future.
Hooray! Somebody had to be first.
But he won't get credit unless some team picks him up.
He is very good looking. And courageous. He is mostly being heralded as hero on Twitter, and the number one trending topic in the nation. This is HUGE. He even knocked Tim Tebow from the top trending topic, which is unheard of.
[quote]every bit as significant, risky, and brave as jackie robinson being the first black player in baseball.
[quote]It's a big deal for sure, but come on now...
i stand by it. the taunting he will face, both at games and online; the radio commentary-- both sports radio and right wing radio; the incredible scrutiny he will be under... yes, every bit as risky, brave, and notable.
This is absolutely amazing. And I'm so very glad that it's a black man that is doing this. The image is so amazing, and I'm so glad that the young gay black men are starting to have people they can look up to as well.
He came out after the season was over after he was made a free agent. He won't get credit as the first active gay player unless some team picks him up.
Conservative Writer Gets Destroyed By The Internet After Mocking NBA Player's Coming Out
Great article. Introspective but matter-of-fact at the same time. Be sure to click the link and read the whole thing. Good for him. I live that he ssys now no one in the NBA can say they don't know a gay guy.
He is getting overwhelming support on Twitter. Even Bill Clinton has released statement in support.
I agree, r25. That was a great closing bit.
[quote]He even knocked Tim Tebow from the top trending topic, which is unheard of.
And for that alone, he will have my unending support.
R25, read your post over before you hit "post"
The problem is he's over 33 and he's a free agent - ie, career OVER, he's not on a team anywhere and won't be.
There is obviously some analogy to Jackie Robinson, but the situations are not equivalent. The presence of black people in professional athletics was a profound turning point for the nation and a revolution for sport.
Ehether the relatively few gay professional athletes are comfortable being out is a relatively small step for society as a whole given the progress that has already happened. The impact on the sports themselves will be minor.
Robinson was a lonely vanguard. Collins is joining a parade.
This man is a hero.
If r30 is right, would his career necessarily have been over if he hadn't come out? Sure he's a bit over the hill and he isn't a star, but you'd think he still might have some use to teams considering he wouldn't command a very high price anyway. Maybe the most pro-gay team owner will want to at least give him a shot.
Dwayne Johnson @TheRock 2m
Being real & authentic is very powerful. Well done Jason Collins for having the courage to take a monumental step forward. #LiveReal
He still could get picked up by a team, especially if the team wanted to create some buzz or historic cred.
As a center, he must have some major sizemeat.
[quote] He even knocked Tim Tebow from the top trending topic, which is unheard of.
Well, 'til Tebow comes out.
Kobe Bryant ✔ @kobebryant
Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU
12:01 PM - 29 Apr 2013
This is not even close to the big announcement.
Spike Lee @SpikeLee 40m
Orange And Blue Skies Salutes Jason Collins. Thank You For Your Courage,A Slam Dunk Against HOMOPHOBIA.And Dat's Da "FREEDOM"Truth,Ruth.
I am so proud of my bro @jasoncollins34 for being real. #FTheHaters bit.ly/12J9el5
well, we already know ben shapiro is an asshole because he writes for breitbart. very amusing that his 'heroes' are newt gingrich, perez hilton and ted cruz. normandy, indeed.
could everybody please tweet ben shapiro and tell him what a jackass he is?
@R21. You are being ridiculous.
Everyone is focused on basketball and football, what MLB and the NHL?
Awesome. So proud of him. I think it helps that he's a native L.A. boy.
Yahoo comments were awful. Other sites were a mixed bag, with some being MUCH better.
It's really great. I wish he was under contract though, not a soon-to-be free agent.
Some phobes dismissing this because Collins is a not-that-visible journeyman (6 teams in 12 years) and not a superstar.
The 12th man on the worst NBA team is not a big deal. It has to be a younger, star player in the prime of his career.
What is his twin brother doing now? Is he still playing?
[quote]The 12th man on the worst NBA team is not a big deal. It has to be a younger, star player in the prime of his career.
It is a big deal. Sure, it would be a bigger deal if it were a young star. No one is denying that. But, it is still a major step. Why be so negative?
Definitely read the rest of the article at OP's link. Collins went to Stanford, and is a terrifically articulate writer.
It's interesting that the identity of gay players doesn't seem to be common knowledge in the NBA. The same thing struck me as odd when Robbie Rogers said he didn't know of other gay MLS/EPL players. Of course, Collins doesn't say he is unaware of other gay players, just that his own sexuality isn't common knowledge.
He came out as black?
Wish I knew who he was.
How did he keep it a secret in the uber-macho world of sports, did he beard?
If ESPN is anything to go by, 99% of the reaction to this is negative.
There are many women who came out as lesbians who are currently active in sports, btw.
I can't find the comments on the article. Do you have to be a subscriber to see them or am I missing something?
Yes R54, but 99% of the American public already assumes 99% of female sports stars are dykes anyway, so when one comes out, it's one big collective yawn.
[quote] If ESPN is anything to go by, 99% of the reaction to this is negative.
They're just children being spanked, of course they don't like it. But there's nothing they can do about it, Collins is out, high-level notables such as Clinton are congratulating him, and the world continues relentlessly moving in our direction.
No. he doesn't have to be anything. Are we creating a self-fulfilling prophecy here? By continually saying that the "first" must be this or that, a star, young, etc, are we actually creating that belief or simply responding to it? Why does Jason Collins coming out "not a big deal"? Perhaps there are no gay athletes who are "younger" and in the "prime of [their] career[s]" who feel comfortable coming out yet. Or maybe that person doesn't even exist at this point in time.
To be honest, I think many gay men wont be satisfied until the athlete coming out is someone they want to fuck.
he seems really smart and articulate
Good for him. But it would be better if he was more famous.
[quote]If ESPN is anything to go by, 99% of the reaction to this is negative.
That's one of the reasons it's a huge deal. The naysayers are wetting their pants - this thing (sports) which they've seen as a part of their manhood is now being "threatened," thus threatening their manhood. It sounds ridiculous, but they've come to identify sports as macho, hetero ritual and that's taken a hit.
But, it really hasn't, they just perceive it that way. Will there be more out athletes in the future. Certainly. But, I hardly think there's going to be a tidal wave, such that any athlete who is gay comes out. The vast majority of reasons (personal, social and institutional) why athletes stay in closet will continue to exist. So, we'll see more out athletes, but many will remain in the closet. I really want Collins to get signed so we can see how he'd be treated in the lockerroom, on the court, etc.
And clean, r60.
You should be able to read comments without subscribing, R56. Sometimes there's a "read comments" or "view comments" button at the bottom of ESPN articles.
@52, I had to google to see who he was.
@49, I'm becoming more cynical of Mr. Collins motives. It seems to me that he waited until he had enough money in the bank, waited until the season and possibly his career was over to make this "courageous" announcement.
"At some point the idea of having no openly gay athletes in a league might sound as unimaginable as a ball field segregated by race. But today Collins becomes the first active male athlete in a major U.S. team sport to come out of the closet. Yes, that's a lot of qualifiers. Yes, it may be an artificial construct. But it is a milestone. Tens of thousands of men have played in the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball. Until today none had expressed his homosexuality before retirement."
Jon Wertheim, SI.
[quote]Bill Clinton: I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea's classmate and friend at Stanford.
Good for him- BB is assumed to be terrifically homophobic like baseball and football. If more do what he did, perhaps it will give way. Very brave move.
He is a ZERO. A NOBODY. Good grief. This is like a golfer's CADDY coming out! He is not even currently attached to a team.
good for him
@R59, it makes a difference.
I'm listening to sports talk radio right now and the response is a big yawn. Some caller says he has been discriminated against by gays. Another caller is bringing up "is he is looking at me at the locker room or showers"? Oh my....
R9's post is the most depressing. Fuck, (some) gays eat their own, and many will never, ever be satisfied. General misery manifested in never being able to compliment anyone or anything. Fuck.
Even if he's signed again, it's laughable, he's not going to be playing. It will be a publicity stunt for the team. He's too old for the sport now.
And being congratulated by rapist Kobe Bryant is not anything to be proud of. The Clinton thing is good but he's already elite "personal friends" with him.
Neil Patrick Harris:
[quote]Bravo, @JasonCollins34! Thanks for stepping up. For standing tall. And at 7 feet, that's saying a lot.
Surely there are many NBA players in their mid-30s, and even into their 40s. He's not automatically too old at 33.
Game changer. Not just in Collins' courage, but the reaction of the public, including athletes.
[quote][R25], read your post over before you hit "post"
Go back to first grade, r29, and learn that sentences require end punctuation.
The cynic in me thinks that he did this now so there will be pressure on the NBA to find him a job, which apparently is not assured. It would look bad for them if he doesn't get another season.
r76 not if they're "free agents" at 33, they are not usually signed at that age anywhere except the sports retirement home.
There are a few EXCEPTIONAL star athletes that are older but it's few and fare between. This guy was not a star and his free agent status means that he was not good enough to be signed up by the current team.
Hell they even just let Tebow go. But on Tebow's behalf he's much younger and might get signed by another team shortly.
I agree with r69
I don't think he'd put a bulls-eye on himself for every right-wing freak in the country, just to increase his chances for further employment in the NBA.
As I said, most gay men will not be satisfied until the athlete in question is someone they want to fuck. To wit, he must be
2) Under 30
The funniest part is he could be a complete "nobody," a real "loser" in whichever league he plays, but the comments you see on this thread will not exist as long as he meets the three criterion. The cries about famous star players and such will fall silent. In its place will be the loudest sucking sound you've ever heard, as the gays rush in.
Yeah, R69 said it. Sorry, kids. Nobody's heard of him and his "career" is over anyway.
Too bad that it will cloud the issue if he doesn't get signed.
It will still be debated if it's his age and skills or his orientation.
Yes well naturally all the Log Cabiners agree with r69 and his thinly-veiled racist post (the caddy imagery.)
He's a 7 footer. The NBA loves players who are 7 ft tall. He's healthy. Someone will sign him for the veterans minimum.
Good for him. The more people who do this, the better.
Without his balls, we'd still have more closet cases.
If just *one* other athlete comes out, the sheeple will understand we're not here to corrupt you.
This is why I beg that someone outs a huge action star ASAP.
Think about it, once Ricky Martin came out, and Doogie, etc., more people associated us with normal guys instead of "drag queens" they've seen on tv (or nellie queens). Nothing wrong with either, but it's not the norm in America.
We need to have sheeple understand we're just like them. A couple more athletes, action star...watch what happens to our rights.
His free agency is the only reason he came out. He either thinks he will never play again and decided now is the time to come out or he is hoping his coming out will boost his profile so that a team will sign him in order to ride his publicity. Either way, he is either a coward for coming out after his career is over or he is a pathetic has been grasping for any chance to remain in the game.
I wish him well in the future and I am glad he came out; but I think he did so for duplicitous reasons.
Very well written article. Jason Collins is a role model for everyone.
The name-dropping of the Kennedys was kind of gross.
Now if he said he had sex with that Kennedy, that would have been delicious gossip.
[quote]Either way, he is either a coward for coming out after his career is over or he is a pathetic has been grasping for any chance to remain in the game.
::eyeroll:: Yes, he's clearly a terrible, terrible person.
r89 steals candy from babies and then asks to be thanked for saving them from the dentist.
This guy is great and has guts!
So after earning $32,816,349 over his NBA career, he decides to come out? How courageous. Give me a break.
Nate Silver has an article giving the odds on him getting signed. Per his stats--they've signed 61% of players who were free agents with his age & type of stats. It's not necessarily true that his career is automatically over.
Supportive athlete tweets so far:
NBA: Kobe Bryant, Baron Davis, Kenneth Faried, Steve Nash, Earl Watson, Kenny Anderson, Julius Hodge, Damien Wilkins, Bruce Bowen, Stacey King, Mark Madsen, John Amaechi, Jay Williams, Jason Kidd
NFL: Brendon Ayanbadejo, Chris Kluwe
MLB: Vinnie Pestano, Aaron Crow
Tennis: Martina Navratilova, Mardy Fish
@97, he played for the league minimum the past two years, which means he was the last man on the roster. This dude knew what he was doing. What a con.
The article makes it seem like his coming out even to the people he actually knows was very recent (only told his twin brother a year ago), so it's not like there's this huge gap between that and his public coming out. He definitely deserves credit considering he's the first; obviously he felt ready now and at least he did it. It really is depressing that as soon as someone comes out other gay people start ripping them to pieces for not doing it on their terms.
Regardless of what some of the bitches on here say what he's done is brave.
I love how the same people belittling Jason Collins coming out (because he's black, and in their eyes not fuckable, no doubt) are probably the same ones who praise multimillionaire mid-40's Anderson Cooper for coming out via email during the dead of summer while he was out of the country.
LOL, please don't ever change, DataLounge.
R98 + Andy Roddick.
Thanks, r102. I missed that one and I was wondering about Andy. He's always been gay friendly.
For me, his status as a player assigned to a team or free agent is really not part of this watershed moment. What I think we are already starting to see is that bigoted, homophobic voices in the sports world (except for anonymous internet posters) are getting immediate push-back whenever they try to make an unkind remark about Jason.
Here's why this is important in my opinion: there have got to be at least ten or so other gay professional athletes in the NBA or the NFL or NHL, etc, etc who are watching the reaction to his coming out very closely. If he gets an overall favorable and supportive reaction, I expect they will be emboldened to come out as well.
He does look like he is smelling fresh-baked cookies.
DL fave Anthony Recker tweeted "Happy for Jason Collins #bewhoyouare that takes #courage.
The Bryan twins are friends with the Collins twins.
Another pair of college buddies.
This realy isn't much of a story unless he remains an active player post-coming out.
Yes, he could have come out before, but what really counts is that he's out now. Congrats to him, the more the better.
r97 Nate's using old stats - did you see that? from the 90's? WTF? & it's just 11 out of 18! Even WITH the old stats.
No this guy is through, he's over, he's made his money and just looking at his photo everyone knew he was gay ...from outerspace. From his own article, his Aunt knew from the time he was a child. IOW everyone knew. He wasn't fooling anyone he knew. He came out publicly which is great but as r69 said it's means nothing, it's as if he was a golf caddy. Snore.
It is a big deal, as someone said, because it causes the neanderthal rabid sports guys to have to admit that a fag is a) better at sports than they are b) has been in the showers and not raped anyone c) other athletes are supporting him.
This is getting a lot of coverage on BBC News today.
Franz something or other is near his name, did he write this or did Franz write it for him? It's not very well-written but it's not poorly written either.
It irks me that people are saying he isn't brave for doing this merely because of his age and status as a non-famous successful basketball player. Jason could face dire consequences and is already subject to vile commentary and that's what is on the 'net. What about when he lives his day-to-day life and tries to maintain his career? Yes, he's rich. Yes, he doesn't have to worry about how he'll pay his mortgage EVER but it's still a brave move.
This revelation (perhaps not to some) will undoubtedly have ramifications for his career. Basketball is what it is. Think about his first locker room shower and how other players will react to him. People can/will make grandiose speeches/comments about what he did. But, it's how he's treated by players and NBA staff on the court that will matter. Maybe he did this to try to ensure he does get picked up because he'll cry homophobia. We don't know. Regardless, it took guts to do a feature in a major athletic magazine.
He's OUT now. People will know who he is, all 7' of him. Call him a coward if you want because of when he came out but he deserves respect for coming out at all..... something many here on DL haven't done.
[quote] And I'm so very glad that it's a black man that is doing this. The image is so amazing, and I'm so glad that the young gay black men are starting to have people they can look up to as well.
Frank Ocean, now Jason Collins: black men are leading the way on this despite the DL lie claiming blacks are more homophobic than the rest of the country.
[quote]This is getting a lot of coverage on BBC News today.
That's because the Britain is obsessed with everything American.
R117 I actually think it's more to do with gay people in sport being an issue here recently too. Both countries are very similar in that the majority of people think that there must be some gay professional sportsman but none of them are out.
Career suicide? maybe not.
Interviews (exclusives and otherwise)
Speaking engagements (min $100,000 per speech)
Endorsement deals (Madison Ave will go nuts with offers)
This guy is gonna be very busy for the next decade, at least.
It was brilliant (business-wise) on his part, to jump to the front of the line and become "THE FIRST GAY AMERICAN ATHLETE" as opposed to being part of the alleged "group of four" that was supposed to come out together.
I would've done the same. This is huge. He is now the most famous athlete in the usa. And I'm happy for him.
The homophobic backlash in his sport may get to be too much and he may have to retire sooner than he anticipated. So all the above opportunities will make up for lost income.
Not $100,000 per speech R119, but speaking engagements for sure.
Madison Avenue has been waiting for him, or whoever. I do wonder if he is a big enough name for them.
Bill Clinton @billclinton
"I'm proud to call Jason Collins a friend"
Lots of speculation on sports talk radio that this coming out will help to ensure that Collins will land a job next season when, by virtue of his advanced age and declining skills, he otherwise would perhaps be out of the league. And that Collins makes some team's roster next season.
Uhm, guy is a real cutie. who's saying he's not good looking? This is awesome news!!!
I'll ride it.
@119 career suicide? What career? His career is basically over. He did this for post career.
I know I'm a sap but I had a little tear in my eye by the end of that article.
R123, I'm listeing to sports talk radio in Detroit and what's so depressing is to hear so many blac men calling expressing some very rabid homophobia. I'm betting not many voted for Romney.
Pau Gasol @paugasol 1h
It's amazing to see such courage from @jasoncollins34 in today's announcement. Myself and the #NBAFamily supports you Jason!
R112's racist ass will be banned soon, no doubt.
The negative DL comments about Jason Collins are as bad and sad as any negatives coming from a complete bigot.
I can't understand anyone trashing this guy, no matter his age, his looks, his career path, his star power, his intentions, or anything else. It just disgusts me.
Collins is a brave man, and the article is really well-written and moving.
To be honest, I'm also moved by the support of well-known straight personalities, especially athletes. Their standing up for Collins makes life easier for every kid growing up gay.
I expect gay people to support Collins, which makes it doubly sad when they don't. I'm moved by straight support, because it gives me hope.
[r126] True. But there's a difference between "bowing out" and being "forced out" of the sport.
And this is what turns no-names into household names which leads to brand creation. He is now a brand. Visibility = cash.
Wait? So he's not a current NBA player? If not, then who cares about someone who comes out AFTER they're done playing? I want someone to be out WHILE they're still playing.
[r120] I worked in the world of speech booking. You would be blown away how much people get paid to give speeches. (Anderson Cooper 100,000-- Kelly Ripa, 100,000) Bill Clinton 200,000 to 300,000 just for context/reference)
I think he can reach that level, just because he is/was "THE FIRST GAY AMERICAN ATHLETE" -- As dumb and silly as that is, he will be a hot commodity at the apex of all of this.
[quote]Madison Avenue has been waiting for him.
I believe he is in talks with Fage yogurt and Mount Gay rum.
what r131 said.
R133, he's a free agent. If you don't know what that means, look it up.
I get so sick of ignorant people making ignorant comments.
He is a current player, albeit one at the late end of his career.
Now could someone PLEASE tell the out lesbian athletes while we care about them, gay men and society just does not care about them being gay IN THE SAME WAY as we do a good-looking man in a straight sport.....................as opposed to female sports where being straight is the exception.
It just is different and if they don't get it well that just explains a lot, now doesn't it?
So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! -mo
Does this mean he gets to lose his job?
ESPN Writer Quick to Say Gay NBA Player Is in 'Rebellion' Against God
Well, that was fast. It only took a few hours for ESPN writer Chris Broussard to go on the network's Outside the Lines today and decry Jason Collins, the gay NBA player who came out in a Sports Illustrated article this morning, as "walking in open rebellion to god and to Jesus Christ."
Broussard, who was responding to Collins' assertion that he was raised with Christian values, went on to say he also takes issue with premarital sex, so surely he'll go on another of these spirited rants the next time it comes out that a pro athlete is sleeping with a woman who is not his wife.
Yes, It's Different for Men
Posted by Anna Minard on Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM
Like I tried to say in my earlier post about gay WNBA players, I am aware that the gender norms are different for men and women, and that Jason Collins coming out is an absolutely historic event. Here, Garance Franke-Ruta at the Atlantic says it much better than I did:
Female professional athletes are already gender non-conforming. Male ones are still worshiped as exemplars of traditional masculinity. Extremely sporty women have to fight stereotyping that they are lesbians and ignore all manner of unkind commentary about how they are mannish, while sporty men are seen as participating in a form of the masculine ideal.
This is the backdrop to why N.B.A. center Jason Collins' revelations in a Sports Illustrated piece today that he is gay are such a big deal—and why it is that similar recent revelations from the this year's W.N.B.A. Number 1 draft pick Brittney Griner were greeted in mid-April with a collective yawn...
The reality is that by becoming a top-ranking female basketball player, Griner had already done hard work violating gender norms and was already seen as a gender outlier.
r140, he shouldn't lose his job over a religious question posed to him. He has a right to answer the question honestly based on his beliefs. He would successfully claim religious discrimination.
Whoa, he actually did it!
His former team would be more accurate, but the statement is encouraging. Guess who's going to conduct the first televised interview? Everyone's favorite pocket gay, G. Snufflufugus!
[quote]GeorgeStephanopoulos @GStephanopoulos 3h
Jason Collins makes history. En route to LA for first interview. What should I ask?
His team were also prompt in releasing a statement, with the president of the Washington Wizards Ernie Grunfeld signing a memo on behalf of the team.
'We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly,' the statement read.
'He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation.'
[quote][R76] not if they're "free agents" at 33, they are not usually signed at that age anywhere except the sports retirement home.
There was a actually a side article about his chances in free-agency on cnnsi or ESPN earlier today.
The author looked at centers aged 33-35 who generally came off the bench but were good enough to start a few games every year. Basically brought in to give the main center some relief - grab a few rebounds, maybe score a few points or get a block. This fits the Collins profile.
Of the players who fit this description (it was 18 to 20 players total) 61% were signed and still in the league after becoming free agents.
So, the author expressed two concerns: (1) if Collins isn't signed it will be contributed to homophobia even though there's a good chance he would not be signed anyway; and (2) if he is signed, people will call it a publicity stunt.
The guy's not a superstar, or even close, but he has been able to stay in the league 12 years.
Another article by Marc Stein on ESPN summarized team executive reaction to the question of if he'd be playing next year. Mixed results - some thought he'd earn a spot, others thought his career was over - because of skill, not sexuality.
Wow r134, thanks, those figures are amazing.
Sorry, the story about his statistical chances is actually from the New York Times, which was cited by R97.
It seems to be trending that way, R147.
[quote] It was a word that Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro mocked in a subsequent tweet:
Which reminds me -- no final toxicology report was released on Andrew Breitbart's corpse. I wonder what kind of dope he was taking.
It's funny how people can read many of the comments in this thread and then complain about homophobia. And you wonder why the gay community is so dysfunctional.
[quote] he shouldn't lose his job over a religious question posed to him.
Uh... Who asked him?
Did someone ask for this ESPN sports commentator's religious take on Collins' coming out?
I don't think so!
He volunteered his religious opinion. Which he did not need to do. Collins had said he was a Christian and this [italic] sports commentator [/italic] decided to go all Jesus Christ on him. Totally unnecessary.
I'm happy he's out. This coming out is apart of a process where one day male players will be known to have boyfriends BEFORE they are drafted. Bravo.
It would never be a bad time for him to come out, but this isn't the optimal time (well, maybe for him, but not from a social perspective).
I really wished he would have made the announcement under contract with no pending free agency. Then, we could have seen how it all played out - in-season fan reaction, teammate dynamics, press reaction, etc.
That can still happen if he's signed, but then people will doubt why he was signed. And, if he doesn't get signed, this story will go away rapidly, like Jon Amechi. Everyone will ignore "it" (gays in sports) until another active player comes out.
R152 makes the grave assumption that all who post here are homosexual males. It used to be pretty much that way, but like everything else the gays develop, the gentrification slithers into the neighborhood, destroying the integrity once enjoyed by the population.
I just can't for the life of me understand how a gay man and/or lgbt person could say that this isn't a big deal. I hope someone is just trolling.
I hope you're right, R156.
R157 should be R152 not R52.
The first gay professional athlete comes out while at the top of his game, and he's BLACK. Take that you fucking racists who want to act like black people are the primary oppressors of gay people.
Yeah, sorry, but not a big deal. Call me when someone equivalent to Kobe comes out.
[quote]he shouldn't lose his job over a religious question posed to him.
This appears to have been an unsolicted opinion, nobody asked him. If he wants to put it on Twitter or a personal blog, so be it. But his religious beliefs have no place on an ESPN broadcast.
A lot of Christians hate Jews too, but if you think they could spout anti-Semitic views on TV and not get fired, you're out of your mind. You can use the bible to incite violence and hatred against any group you like, as long as a network is willing to air your bigotry and keep you employed afterwards. There is no value in inciting hatred against minority groups, therefore other forms of bigotry get people fired. There's still a double-standard about homophobia only because there's still too many homophobes calling the shots in the media.
The Boston Red Sox have invited Collins to throw out the first pitch in an upcoming game.
Here's an article where ESPN contributors discuss Collins' coming out and his viability in the league. Note that three of these were panelists with Broussard on the show.
3. If he plays, do you expect Collins to have difficulty with teammates?
Arnovitz: I don't expect Collins to have difficulty with anyone. The question is whether teammates have difficulty with him. The answer is that, sure, there will be teammates who are uncomfortable with sharing a locker room with a gay man. Some will express that sentiment to varying degrees while others will keep it private. Eventually, everyone will get over it.
Elhassan: Overall, no. There will always be a few in the league who will be outspoken and lash back out of ignorance, religious conviction, or a combination thereof, and there might be a few guys who will be quietly uncomfortable. But by and large, most players already know someone in their personal lives who is gay: a family member, a classmate, perhaps even a teammate. The NBA locker room is, for the most part, a family-type atmosphere, and the majority of players will be accepting of Collins. It also helps that he is one of the most well-liked and well-respected players in the entire league.
Shelburne: No. The NBA is a far more tolerant place than people realize. There's some immaturity in the locker room, but in my experience covering the league I really believe its players are some of the most worldly in sports. Loud, public shows of support from superstars like Kobe Bryant -- who broke his Twitter exile to tweet a message of support for Collins on Monday -- should set the right tone for the rest of the league and its players.
Stein: As in a large number of teammates? No. A teammate or two? An opponent or two? Yes. NBA players are some of the most worldly athletes you'll find, but hate and intolerance still lurk everywhere. Problems will inevitably arise.
Thorpe: Not likely. It's comforting to know that hate has a very small place in the NBA. There are some guys who will think the wrong thing, but peer pressure will likely keep them quiet. The majority of NBA players are focused on their career and the success of their team, not to mention their own life, problems, challenges, etc.
4. If he plays, do you expect Collins to have difficulty with fans?
Arnovitz: Collins has the fortitude to deal with ugly fans and, in arenas that seat 19,000 people, catcalls from the least enlightened in a crowd tend to pierce through the noise. Over time, those epithets will fade and cranky fans will be calling gay players the same ridiculous, mean-spirited and occasionally funny names they call straight players.
Elhassan: Unfortunately, yes. The days of the "witty" heckler (like famous Washington Bullets super-fan Robin Ficker) are long gone, and for some fans, the mixture of high-priced seats and alcohol gives them "license" to yell some of the most outlandish slander to players, regardless of sexual orientation. There will be knuckleheads who will pick on Collins for being different, and it will be the responsibility of arena security to handle situations swiftly. But it also falls on other level-headed fans to police their own and make it clear that such behavior is not acceptable.
Shelburne: Unfortunately, yes. While I think the majority of America is very accepting and tolerant of homosexuality now, you are always going to get some ignorant fans who hide behind the cover of anonymity in the stands and in chat rooms. It could be uncomfortable at times, but that's as far as it'll go. Collins can take it.
Thorpe: More than teammates, yes. The pack mentality suggests there will be some young men who will drink too much and then yell something stupid, at some point anyway. But I'd expect teammates and even someone from the other team to come to Collins' defense. It's a tight fraternity -- mostly young, black men who are playing basketball for a lucrative living. They watch out for each other, root for each other, and in this case, will stand up for their brother. It will be great to see that happen, just as we are seeing
On Chris Matthews' show, the ESPN writer said that Collins would quickly become the most popular player in the NBA.
R166, based on what? That he's gay?
Lena Dunham @lenadunham
"I'm gonna be the first openly straight woman to french kiss the first openly gay NBA player."
It takes two to Tango.
And that would be the stupidest thing for a public figure who has just come out to do. I know you may mean well, but get out of the spot light for this one, mkay?
Lena Dunham is a living example of the thread about people who make it about themselves.
r166...please. All it will take is a really good player to come out.
This statement is very interesting, for obvious reasons:
Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups: "I'm proud of [Collins]. I'm proud that he is able to comfortable in his own skin and be who he is. He was comfortable enough to come out. Now I'm pretty sure he feels free and feels like he can live a little bit. The world is different now. This is how the world is today. I'm happy he had the courage to do it."
Hint: He loves blond dudes.
Some of you must not watch ESPN. Chris Broussard's comments on Outside the Lines were in response to the hosts directly asking Broussard what he felt about Jason Collins' declaration that he is a Christian. That is only when Broussard stated that based on his Christian beliefs and the Bible, you can't be a Christian and practice sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
Broussard is an asshole for speaking that way. He should keep his biblical interpretations to himself.
If he were going off on biblical embracement of slavery , I wonder what would be said?
THE advice Englishman John Amaechi gave to Jason Collins before the NBA veteran came out is very different to what he tells the gay football players he knows in England's Premier League.
"The NBA is light years ahead of football," Amaechi said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "There is no doubt about that."
Amaechi became the first openly gay former NBA player in 2007, three years after retiring. In the month before his public announcement on Monday, Collins spoke to him about his decision.
"I told him there isn't anything negative about it," Amaechi said. "Being out is better than being in - unreservedly."
In American sports maybe. But not in football - particularly in England, according to Amaechi. Being an Englishman and one of the country's leading equality campaigners, he is qualified to offer his opinion.
"If it wanted to be a better, more progressive organisation that supported diversity, not because it looks pretty when you put it on the back of your annual report ... it could be," Amaechi said. "It has the resources. It doesn't want to get rid of the dinosaur, so the dinosaurs continue to roar through the hallways of football, making sure that everyone knows how you have to behave.
"Let's face it. You are better off being the kind of football player who bites like a 5-year-old than a gay player in football. One would get you less ridicule from the powers that be. It's shocking to me."
Amaechi's comments allude to Liverpool forward Luis Suarez's bite a week ago, and they carry weight. He is the figurehead many gay football players in England are turning to for advice - in private, afraid to become front-page news.
Justin Fashanu was the first leading British player to come out publicly, acknowledging he was gay in 1990. The former Nottingham Forest and Norwich City forward's life ended in 1998 at age 37 when he was found hanged in a London garage.
The next notable player to come out was Robbie Rogers, a former member of the U.S. national team who had been playing for Leeds. Aged only 25, he felt he had to retire at the same time he made his announcement in February.
Asked if any privately gay players had contacted him like Collins, Amaechi replied: "Yes, a few."
"There are plenty of them who are already out, who have come out to some of their teammates," he added. "But they just don't want (to in public). They don't have any faith in football to do its job, to do its duty."
Fans of the second-tier English club Brighton recently published a dossier highlighting the constant homophobic abuse they face at matches. The southern city is known for its gay and lesbian community.
Faced with hostile crowds and the macho world of locker rooms, players are reluctant to come out. Amaechi said the gay players he knows can be more open at home.
"They are out in the way that most people are out, in that people they love and that people who care about them know that they are gay," Amaechi said. "But random strangers don't know that they are gay. It is quite a huge expectation that you put on people, you expect them essentially to wear a T-shirt that says 'By the way I'm gay' every day.
"There is something I can tell you from experience quite weird about it."
In response to Amaechi's criticism, the English Football Association defended its vigor in tackling homophobia, pointing to its "Opening Doors and Joining In" campaign that marked its first anniversary earlier this month with an event at the House of Commons.
"Opening Doors has received positive feedback inside Westminster and from the likes of Stonewall FC, the country's first ever gay football club, while both Graeme Le Saux and West Ham's Matt Jarvis have lent their support to The FA's work in this area," FA spokesman Scott Field said.
Le Saux is a former English national team defender who faced abuse during his career over baseless claims about his sexuality.
Jarvis, who is heterosexual and married, posed topless on the cover of a gay magazine recently in a bid show support for the gay community.
Amaechi stresses the need to move away from preconceptions.
"In Britain is the idea that real men - straight men - don't read books, must whistle at women and objectify them and all kinds of crazy stuff that is not particularly helpful," he said.
He offers a note of caution about the prospect of current players emulating Collins' public announcement.
"With football, they've got so far to go," he said. "That's almost a bridge too far."
Bravo to Jason Collins. He is beyond courageous. I don't think anyone here understands the bravery required of a 7ft black male athlete to declare publicly that he is gay.
I am only dismayed that the gay community - if one can use such a term in reference to DL - is not 100% on his side. I find the negative comments here more revolting than what's at the ESPN site.
R171 - who loves blonde men? Jason Collins?
[quote]Yeah, sorry, but not a big deal. Call me when someone equivalent to Kobe comes out.
It doesn't even have to be someone on his level, just someone who is ACTIVELY playing basketball and CURRENTLY signed to a team. THAT is what takes guts.
I think this whole thing is fucking amazing. And I was beyond thrilled when I found out he was black. I'm sorry, but when something as high profile as this happens, it's important that we remember that gay people come in all shapes and colors. It's just really cool that the first out NBA player is black.
Maybe the haters will get their white blond jock teenage dream when someone comes out in the NFL.
But I wonder, because white gays as of late seem to be more about securing privilege than taking risks. I think back to the DADT thing when the Korean guy fought for gay soldiers and the white dudes only fought for their pensions.
That's the whitewashed version of what he said r172, here's the quote:
"If you're openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, (but) adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals ... I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ," Broussard said. "I would not characterize that person as a Christian, because I don't think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."
That's way beyond just saying gays can't be Christian, he accused gays of being "in open rebellion to God" and "living in unrepentant sin." To pit a minority group against God, saying that they are open rebellion against him, is demonization and close to an incitement to violence. It's over the line, inflammatory, and ESPN should want to distance itself from his views by firing him.
Who doesn't know that gay people come in "all shapes and colors" R178?
I have heard few people if any criticize him. Rather, people are questioning whether or not this is the amazing intervention that so many want it to be. I'm surprised you racialized their criticism. You might want to actually respond to what people write and say.
12 years in the NBA and he's still a journeyman? WTF?!
What's all this fuzz I hear about Joan Collins coming out?
Good for him!
[quote]I think back to the DADT thing when the Korean guy fought for gay soldiers and the white dudes only fought for their pensions.
That's right. The Korean-American guy was the only one in the entire nation fighting for the repeal of DADT. I'm glad you pointed that out since I was so buy fighting for my pension that I never noticed Dan Choi, r177. Thanks for your history lesson, Bigot!
I know nothing about basketball but this guy is both hot & eloquent. Good for him - he did an admirable thing & it will help people.
I hope I don't sound shallow (I mean, I'm as pleased as anyone), but nobody at DL has some first-hand bedroom experiences with Mr. Collins to report? I doubt he's been living like a priest all these years.
I don't believe it. Jason Collins doesn't look or act gay.
[quote]Lena Dunham @lenadunham "I'm gonna be the first openly straight woman to french kiss the first openly gay NBA player."
Hasn't the man suffered enough?
So what happened to all of that muttering a few weeks ago about the four NFL players who were gonna come out?
If S.I. wants our business, they need more men in the swimsuit issue!
This is great but if you click on a random article about this beware the comment section! Some of the comments I've been reading really turn my stomach.
Why can't I see the comments at the SI article? I'm not registered, but there's no hint of any commentary at all.
I'm gay and a huge NBA fan. To turn on TNT for the playoffs tonight and have them open with the Collins story and hear Kenny, Charles, and Shaq support him and then then the tweets from Kobe and Wade and Bill Clinton and Michelle brought a tear to my eye. I felt more loved today. The passing of prop 8 killed me but it's all turning around. I'm so happy.
I think more players will find the courage to come out because of this. I personally know for an absolute fact that there are more. But I'm sure we all know that. Jason did a great thing that took a great deal of courage ;I'm very proud of him.
[quote]Why can't I see the comments at the SI article? I'm not registered, but there's no hint of any commentary at all.
I can't see them either.
R83 called it - JC is the best
I certainly applaud his decision and give him props for coming out, but the media is reporting this as though it's never happened before. I guess they haven't done their homework very well because NFL Running Back David Kopay came out as gay way back when in 1975 and it basically cancelled any further career he had playing professional football. Maybe times have changed enough since then in this testosterone-dominated sports world to allow for a gay man/woman to continue their sports career and still be proud of who they are and not hide it.
All this support for Jason is the cultural antidote to the bigoted evil of the Chick-Fil-A debacle. Death to homophobic Chick-Fil-A!
[quote]I guess they haven't done their homework very well because NFL Running Back David Kopay came out as gay way back when in 1975
Kopay came out three years after he had retired from the game.
Comments sections are notoriously rightwing and ignorant. Don't be fooled.
Those people are now in the minority and their ugly and hateful comments are increasing as a result, ironically.
Hope more professional athletes will find this as inspiration to come out,be realabout who they are...
There are lots more not just in the NBA but other sports arenas too.
I always have a mixed reaction to these coming out declarations.
I've been out and into activism/support since the 70's. Okay, fine not everyone's cup of tea.
But when I read about somebody like this guy who is set for life and getting a huge media push....hero is not the word. A hero is a firefighter pulling someone from a burning building, you know what I mean, REALLY risking something. Good for Jason, but no...not a hero.
If I hear this journey to self discovery crap one more time my head will explode. That is just bullshit. It's merely self justification for being ashamed of yourself and not coming out sooner...
You may have been out since the 70s, but you're not out to the entire world like Collins. And in a macho profession that is furious that he came out. Collins has a target on his back for every right-wing freak in the country. He is REALLY risking something, certainly enough to be called a hero.
John Amaechi is right, this is another area where America is lightyears ahead of the rest of the world. Funny how Americans think of football (soccer) as not a man's sport but they would be shocked at the hyper masculine, super-macho atmosphere around the world's most popular sport.
A footballer would NEVER come out in the current climate. He would be shunned by teammates, rebuked by coaches and the owners which is bad enough, but nothing can approach the expected brutality of the fans . He would be slaughtered. Football fandom has a somewhat sectarian, political even, aspect. Many of European major clubs' "ultras" are more or less modern day fascists who would make Mussolini and General Franco proud. Black players still face monkey chants and bananas thrown at them in some countries, a gay player would be torn to shreds.
[quote]Le Saux is a former English national team defender who faced abuse during his career over baseless claims about his sexuality.
I remember this. One of the problems seemed to be he read The Guardian which, anyone familiar would footballers, would know was not typical in the game. Graeme LeSaux is smart, educated, well-read and article. He even suffered homophobic abuse on the field of play by fellow players, like Robbie Fowler and none other than DL fave David Beckham.
I'm betting he wants to go into politics. He's friends with Chelsea Clinton and Joe Kennedy and likes to mention his well-connected relatives. Maybe he could be the first gay black president.
[quote] You may have been out since the 70s, but you're not out to the entire world like Collins. And in a macho profession that is furious that he came out
Furious? I watched a bunch of black NBA and ESPN guys on CNN yesterday and they were all supportive and had a kind of attitude like, "Look, deal with this. It's what the future is all about. Gays aren't hiding anymore and everybody needs to grow up and stop squealing about it. We're cool with it and you should be, too"
Poor Robin-right after the interview with George, the camera goes back to the desk with the rest of the hosts-Sam talks about how difficult it can be to come out-Robin just sits there like a bump on a log.
Yes furious r207, the fans are furious, it's seen in the comments section in any article about it.
r209, the comments sections are NOT representative.
If they were, Mitt Romney would have won in a landslide, and all gay Americans would be in jail.
He's at the end of his career so he's taking a stab at trying to see if he can find employement from another angle. If he doesn't get picked up by any NBA team next year, he can use the gay excuse. I doubt he realizes that he sucks as a player.
Would anyone post up on him anymore? Better learn to shoot jumpers!!!
They might not representative of the public as a whole r210, but it's a good representation of football fans. It'd be ridiculous to deny that football fans tend to be conservative and male, only a minority are progressive.
Figures that he comes out just as he's about to retire. 34 is kinda old in the sports world. I'd like to see a successful, young star come out. But we all know that will never happen.
Never r214? That's what they said about gay marriage and a black president.
I just came back from the espn website. The "conversation" comments posted by readers took what joy I had at this advancement away. 99 percent of them are not only anti-gay but even vicious.
Not that I won't get over it, I know how far we have come in my life (55 years), but I really didn't there was this much phobia left in the country.
Robbie Rodgers, an American, who came out earlier this year while playing second-tier football in England made the announcement and promptly retired at 25 because he knew just how hostile the environment would become.
The sports writer who appeared on the Chris Matthews show predicted Collins would get standing ovations from fans in every city he plays -- if he is signed by a team and gets to play. He believes the mouth-breathing cretins on display at espn.com are a distinct minority. Loud, but small. I hope Collins does play this next season so we get to see if he's right.
[quote]But we all know that will never happen.
Yes, it will. And that day is that much closer thanks to Collins.
[quote] Yes furious [R207], the fans are furious, it's seen in the comments section in any article about it.
Then it's not the "macho profession" that is furious, as you claimed. It's the fans who are furious.
What kills me s that he is a mediocre player, but still got $33 million.
If I came into this thread and posted ten nasty messages about Jason Collins, the people claiming "all the fans are furious" would then claim "EVERYONE at DL hates Jason Collins."
r221, he is paid his worth. how much are you paid?
President Obama: [Collins] seems like a terrific young man. I told him that I couldn't be prouder. The LGB community deserves full equality, not just partial equality....I think Americans should be proud of him and this is just one step in our ongoing recognition that we treat people fairly...I am very proud of him.
Obama came back to the podium to answer Collins question: "Everyone is part of our family."
Obama has been the best president the LGBT community could ever hope for.
On Jason Collins Obama says: He "can still bang with Shaq, and deliver a hard foul."
It's sad how some of those here on DL are part of the crowd trying to belittle this. Did you even see the ESPN announcer Broussard call being GAy an open rebellion to God and how many people rushing in to agree with him? To come out in the sports world is not an easy thing. Yes he's going to get high profile support but he'll also have to put up with a lot of ugliness. When you have all the other sites filled with vile homophobic comments DL doesn't need to be joining in the bashing.
As a gay man, it hurts me to see on a gay blog, like DL, vicious, insensitive and snide remarks about a very brave and commendable act by a young man whose entire career is based in a straights-only, homophobic field. if we can't show him respect and solidarity here, where can he turn? Sometimes it isn't appropriate to be a clever bitch.
Let's see if a team picks him up.
R229 is spot on. None of you recall that your fears of coming out were often way overblown? Still absolutely crippling beforehand though.
Is it kinda wrong of me that even though I'm very proud of him for all of the politicaly correct reasons, I really am turned on by him and would love to give him a coming out blowjob?
A comment never said on CNN
Juke Left @JukeLeft 53s
Obama called Jason Collins "courageous" and Clinton called him a "good man," while Kim Kardashian called him her "greatest challenge yet."
why is it the african americans who seems to be very homophobic to Jason Collins? like Kevin Hart,the Broussard dude and Mike wallace?
Who ever heard of Broussard before he decided to go all "subnormal"?
[quote]why is it the african americans who seems to be very homophobic to Jason Collins? like Kevin Hart,the Broussard dude and Mike wallace?
You clearly haven't been reading this thread.
RE226: That is setting the bar for 'hope' pretty low. Good on him for being gracious, but then again, President Obama is a great speaker and is very good at appearing genuinely magnanimous once he's finished the political calculations behind his public statements.
[quote] [R221], he is paid his worth. how much are you paid?
LOL! Hardly a fair question. "Worth" is an elastic term. By your measure Kim Kardashian is also worth what she makes because she makes money for others. Which is what Jason presumably does, too, for his team. But as a player - the contract is hardly a true measure of his ability.
But cheers to him. I'm happy for him. He did wait until he was fabulously wealthy and established before he found the courage. I'm more impressed by those who do this while they are still vulnerable. This 7 foot fabulously wealthy man is hardly vulnerable.
When Frank Ocean opened up about his sexuality in a heartfelt Tumblr post last summer it brought down one of the most enduring hurdles in the hip-hop/R&B world. His letter, in which he opened up about his first love, an unnamed man, was seen as a watershed in urban music and it drew praise from Odd Future boss Tyler, the Creator and hip-hop icon Russell Simmons.
Another major wall came down on Monday, when 12-year NBA veteran forward Jason Collins became the first active player in a major league sport to come out. In a personal essay in Sports Illustrated, Collins wrote, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay. 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."
Collins said he chose this time to come out because of the deep impact the Boston Marathon bombings had on him and his belief that he couldn't wait anymore for the perfect moment to come out because "things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?"
Though he doesn't name-check Ocean, there's no doubt that the Odd Future crooner's action last summer made the atmosphere a bit safer for Collins to make his decision. "I'm glad I'm coming out in 2013 rather than 2003," Collins wrote. "The climate has shifted; public opinion has shifted." Like Ocean, Collins chose to make his statement not in a teary interview with Oprah or another talk show host, but in an essay in which he could explain himself on his own terms without another voice clouding his story.
And, like Ocean, Collins got lots of big-name support for his actions, from fellow players like Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson, to former president Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea, to director Spike Lee and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who tweeted, "I'm overwhelmed by your bravery, Jason, & sending so much love."
Other sports stars also weighed in, including out tennis icon Martina Navratilova, boxing great Evander Holyfield and wrestler/actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who wrote, "Being real & authentic is very powerful. Well done Jason Collins for having the courage to take a monumental step forward."
Among the Hollywood notables who sent their best wishes were Eva Longoria, former 'NSYNC member Lance Bass, Sirius/XM talker Howard Stern, Rosie O'Donnell, Kathy Griffin, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Neil Patrick Harris, Busy Phillips and Katy Perry, who said, "Congrats, Jason Collins and thank you!"
[quote]A footballer would NEVER come out in the current climate. He would be shunned by teammates, rebuked by coaches and the owners which is bad enough, but nothing can approach the expected brutality of the fans . He would be slaughtered
A pro footballer has come out, though he left the game at the same time. He is talking about going back.
Hope he goes back to soccer. Leaving the game while coming out is not cool. It sends a message that you have to leave in order to come out.
Problem with football is the fans are mostly uneducated low-class trash. Here's what Robbie Rogers will hear if he ever comes back to UK football, based on chants directed at Brighton FC:
'We can see you holding hands.'
'You’re just a town full of faggots.'
'What’s it like to suck a cock?'
'We drink cider, you suck cock!'
'Does your boyfriend know you’re here?'
'You only sing when you’re buggering'
'Go home you queers'
'Up your arse m’lord, up your arse!'
'Soft Southern poofters'
A Swedish professional from a second tier club came out a year or two ago.
I assume Robbie Rogers would try to come back in the MLS not the EPL or Championship where he'd likely encounter more problems.
Keep in mind that soccer in England is, for the most part, a working class game. Rugby is the "gentlemen's" sport. It's not surprising that now two rugby player have come out without problems. There are definite socio-economic factors in play.
[italic]And[/italic] EPL is followed globally with fans in the Middle East and parts of he world that are not receptive to gays at all. I think this is why the FA hasn't focused so much on this issue (as opposed to anti-racism campaigns which the FA, UEFA, and FIFA have promoted heavily).
He knows what he will face. At some point in the interview he said all he is really worried about is the fans.
[quote](as opposed to anti-racism campaigns which the FA, UEFA, and FIFA have promoted heavily)
With such great success, like here in Italy.
It actually has been successful in England. It's a matter of enforcing zero tolerance which the FA does. This isn't a priority for other FAs. The RFEF president (Spain) actually said this past fall that there's no racism in Spain. That's a problem. Racism gets worse, in general, as one moves east.
[quote] When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.
I'd like to see where Collins has made a public and heartfelt apology to Carolyn Moos. Or is he a self-absorbed jerk?
Here's what Moos has said about their relationship:
[quote] "I'd mapped out my life completely," recalls Moos, 34. "I knew I wanted to be married, wanted to have children, live in this city, send my kids to this school. … I invested eight years in something. … To be able to recover from that is not an easy process. … But I'm glad Jason can be his own person now. I'm glad he can walk in his own shoes."
Interesting that Chely Wright is tweeter support for Jason Collins.
Wright is another person who sought big publicity about being gay and who left behind a former partner who had no idea.
Robie Rogers has been clear in interviews that if he returns to soccer, it will be in MLS. That's completely understandable - as noted, the fans of second division UK teams, and the Euro club atmosphere in general, are more notoriously homophobic than their US counterparts.
Soccer in the US tends to attract a geekier and better educated fan base than, say, the NBA or NFL. Robbie clearly misses playing. His family lives in SoCal, and he's begun practicing with the LA Galaxy. Although Chicago officially holds his rights, I'm guessing he'll be bought out by LA and will appear on the Galaxy roster sooner rather than later. I'm anticipating a strong welcome from all MLS teams and fans, which should set a positive precedent. At 25, and one of the top US-bred players, Rogers still has a long career in front of him.
Detroit Lions Alphonso Smith's homophobic tweets is even worst than Mike Wallace..He even refuse to apologies and question why if he has a diff opinion he gets called a vilian and thinks gays being praise for coming out is just the in/popular thing to do for the moment ..Seriously his tweets are disgusting.
He had a fiance for eight years, and she had no idea he was gay. She must feel really dumb right now.
So is he bisexual? He had a fiancee for 8 years.
Some of you focus way too much on the negative. Trust me, it will make you miserable because there will always be homophobes/bigots. I'd rather focus on the positive. I'm just so happy to see such a ( mostly) positive response from players, coaches, and various other people. I saw an interview with his former coach today and the coach was very positive and accepting. It's great!
R254 I think he considers himself gay.
What was it like when Jackie Robinson became the first black player to play for professional baseball? did any famous celebrity,sports figure or newscaster criticize him openly like some are doing to Jason?
Well, r254 and r256, a straight man is unlikely to have a fiancee for eight years!
I would think that the better question would be if any publicly said anything positive about Jackie, R257.
[quote]So is he bisexual? He had a fiancee for 8 years.
No, he says he's gay. He said he knew he was gay the whole time. So basically, he was just using her as a beard.
Carolyn Moos is 6'6". I wonder if he likes his men tall, too.
Wow, did you guys see Anderson Cooper's interview, via phone, with Spike Lee? It was almost high camp. When Spike Lee started to talk about gays in the black church I almost spit out my tea.
Why are people making such a big deal over this? Gay people are just like every one else.
R249 go away FRAU! How come when a WOMAN comes out after being in a relationship or even married to a man for years (Meridith Baxter for instance) nobody says "She owes her ex husband an apology for deceiving him".
It's not about her, it's about him.
The West Fourth Street basketball courts in Greenwich Village, known far and wide as the Cage, draw some of the toughest and best streetball players from across the city. And on Tuesday, as the sporting world absorbed the news that the journeymen N.B.A. center Jason Collins had come out as gay, the denizens of the Cage said, by and large, that it made no difference to them.
“His personal life is his own,” said a 60-year-old man who goes by the name Coach and has been playing and coaching at West Fourth Street for 30 years. “Nobody can tell me who in the morning I’m going to get up and smell their breath. We’ve raised gay people here. No jokes, no discrimination. I’ll critique your game but not your personal life.”
Across the East River at the Rodney Park North courts on the south side of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the reaction was much the same.
Here are some voices from the two courts:
From the Cage:
“There are a lot of gay players here but the only ones who admit it are the girls. But, still, today is better than yesterday for them.” – Vince, a coach and player from Jersey City in his 50s.
“It’s a great start, but they need a bigger star who’s more relevant to come out to really make a difference.” — Michael Watson, 23, who lives in Manhattan and works in a nightclub.
“I’d still play with him. I wouldn’t shower with him, though.” — Joseph Washington, 24, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
“I just finished playing with a gay guy here. It doesn’t change anything. He’s not changing the United States anyway, because everybody is going to have different views.” — Stephen Williams, 22, of the Bronx.
“He’s his own person. You got to be true to yourself sometimes. If he’s O.K. with it, everyone else should be,” — Shariff Webb, 21, of Queens.
From the Rodney Park courts in Williamsburg:
“It’s just something he’s had throughout his childhood, I don’t see nothing wrong with that. This is what Hollywood, the media, celebrities, does. But really it’s no big deal.” — Wady Capellan, 19.
“As long as he respects boundaries, it shouldn’t affect the basketball court.” — Bill Baez, 19.
“This is the South Side. We see gay people walking around all the time. It’s normal. If you’re gay, you’re gay.” — Ruder Perez, 17.
In the last 24 hours, one of the questions we've been asked over and over is how the coming out of NBA player Jason Collins could affect him financially. We got the first glimpse of that when the Washington Wizards told ABC News that sales of the out center's jerseys spiked in the last 36 hours. In fact, yesterday Collins was the most popular Wizard by 100 percent:
Team spokesman Scott Hall told ABC News that 100 percent of custom jerseys ordered from the team's online store bore Collins' name and number, 98, on the back, after Collins revealed his homosexuality in an article published on Sports Illustrated's website on Monday.
Who the fuck is Jayson Collins?!? How come I've never heard of him?? He's never made himself known to me. Now he wants me to care about his coming out? Nuh uh, not happening.
r268, you are ignorant. Begone.
I don't think we will see an openly gay active NFL player anytime soon..The NY Jets just released Tim Tebow because the media hype was such a destruction for the team and it created a circus everyday and to make matters worse Tim was a terrible backup QB and didn't live up to expectations. Most of the team and fans agreed that they should focus on performance and not let prosonal things about a player become the #1 focus on the football field.
Jason Collins = coming out at 35 with no contract
Kathy Griffin = her gays
Another Anderson Cooper. I'm glad he came out but I question the timing. Now he can scream bigotry if no nba team picks him to continue to play.
Says he knew when his he and his twin brother first started listening to hip-hop when they were 12 and their tastes started to diverge: didn't understand brother's growing obsession with video hos and their bootys.
Signs of backlash from fraus saying Carolyn Moos is the real victim, that he deceived her, wasted her life and put her health at risk.
There's no way of knowing, but looking at both, I wouldn't be surprised she was more into him than the reverse.
Is the twin brother a pro-baller too?
[quote] I doubt he realizes that he sucks as a player.
Tell us about your 10 years in the NBA, R211.
Stanford grad, pro athlete, name recognition. Hell yes I'd like him to look toward politics; better a Cory Booker than JC Watts (or Jim Bunning!)
Guys, I think the main question is missing. Do you think he has a BIG BLACK DICK?
[quote] How come when a WOMAN comes out after being in a relationship or even married to a man for years (Meridith Baxter for instance) nobody says "She owes her ex husband an apology for deceiving him".
R264 - Collins' Sports Illustrated article gives the impression that he had a brief engagement with someone of whom we hadn't heard - rather than an 8 year relationship that ended in an engagement to someone whose name is known to those of us who follow women's basketball. An apology would have made him seem a better person and an explanation of his anguish would have have been helpful to other men in the same situation.
R270, the Jets first brought Tebow from the Broncos largely because of the hype and his popularity. If he had played even halfway well, they would not have released him.
I agree with R278 and I also think Meredith Baxter was a real cunt to David Burney and should apologize to him for their marriage.
The Jets wanted Tim Tebow because he was a mega sports celebrity. He brought a lot of wanted attention to the lowly Jets. Mark Sanchez wasn't exactly killin it on the field.
Carolyn Moos was interviewed by Piers Morgan last night. She was very gracious, but it was obvious that Collins had not apologized to her. She said he called to tell her he was gay and that he was making the announcement, and he's very caught up in that right now.
I feel for her but did she not think something was off given their nearly decade long engagement? Am I wrong for even asking this question?
Again, I can see her being more into him than viceversa. She probably did the chasing and lifting for the relationship and he just went along.
So did he break up with her over the phone with the announcement? What a horrible way to be dumped.
No. They hadn't been engaged for a few years.
He dumped her 4 years ago but didn't tell her why.
Collins averages 3 pts a game.
Let me know when someone good comes out!
He's mainly a defensive player brought in off the bench. His job is to foul.
[quote]“As long as he respects boundaries, it shouldn’t affect the basketball court.” — Bill Baez, 19.
Bill needs to state his boundaries.
He still fucked her - bi.
Has Howard Kurtz apologized for lying about Jason Collins not mentioning his engagement in his SI piece yet?
He is a hard fouler. Very aggressive dude.
Augg I can't believe TMZ is focusing on the negative side of Jason Collins coming out...TMz is reporting that Jason is relieving death threats on twitter..I have no doubt he is but Tmz seems to be exaggerating it with the 4 tweets which is pretty common on twitter to celebs.This will only make closet players crawl inside their closet more...
R292 that's the point I was trying to make he broke up with her 4 YEARS AGO.
It's not like he was cheating on her with other men when they were together cause that would be fucked up and I could see her getting pissed over that.
When I was in college I had a 2 year gay relationship with a guy I was in love with and thought was completely gay too. He broke up with me after he moved to the other side of the country, we tried to make the long distance relationship last but we couldn't
About 3 years ago I saw him and his PREGNANT NEW WIFE at a funeral for a mutual college friend, I just said hi and chatted with him a bit
I did wonder maybe he was bi or really straight but just experimenting with me, then I thought to myself that's his business and he doesn't owe me shit because he's not in my life anymore and we both moved on and he met my new boyfriend at the funeral.
It's the same thing, I'm sick of women always playing victim all the time.
He don't owe her shit.
ETA: according to social media analyst form Topsy...Jason Collins had 36,000 postive tweets towards him for coming out while 8,000 were negative. he also only had 4,000 followers on twitter and that spike up to 99,000 after his announcement I wish TMz would report this things instead sensationalize the negativity of those 4 death treat tweets.
I know, I'd much rather focus on the positive than the negative. I refuse to read comment sections about this story on non-gay sites. I'm just not that interested in reading what 50 non-factors have to say.
I can't believe the most important question hasn't been asked up to now. IS HE SINGLE?
He can be very rich if he wants, well even richer.
Nice article on Carolyn Moos reaction:
[italic]Moos, a former Stanford and WNBA center, dated Collins for eight years and was to marry him in 2009 until he suddenly called it off with a month to go.
Then: hurt, confusion and embarrassment. Today: answers.[/italic]
She's taking it very well considering.
[quote]He dumped her 4 years ago but didn't tell her why.
If she was dumped 4 years ago then why is she going on all the interviews saying that now that he's come out, she now has to rewrite the script she had planned out in her head. She had planned how many children they'll have, where they'll go to school, where they'll live.
Howard Kurtz should apologize
Please, he's coming out in this exteremely calculated fashion because he doesn't have a fucking job and most likely has one season left in him. His career is OVER.
Call me when an ACTUAL star player on an ACTUAL major sports team has the "courage" to come out. This guy is a nobody.
r308 = know nothing. Collins is a well-known and respected player among those who follow professional basketball. The fact that he's at the end of his career means he has a reputation, a well-respected one, that goes back several years.
His world, which which you are clearly unfamiliar, can't dismiss him as a effeminate or gay (as in bad) because they know him as a fierce, manly competitor and an all-round nice guy.
THAT'S why he's getting all the good messages from people he's played with throughout the years.
R308 is oblivious to this but thinks his opinion matters. For those whose remotes are stuck permanently on Bravo, this event is confusing. Consider shutting the fuck up and not exposing your ignorance.
[quote] I'm gay and a huge NBA fan. To turn on TNT for the playoffs tonight and have them open with the Collins story and hear Kenny, Charles, and Shaq support him and then then the tweets from Kobe and Wade and Bill Clinton and Michelle brought a tear to my eye. I felt more loved today. The passing of prop 8 killed me but it's all turning around. I'm so happy.
:) Congratulation to Jason Collins.
STFU, haters. I suspect most of you are from the pool of the faux-LGBTs who make up nearly 50% of Datalounge, according to a poll a few months back. Coupled with a few veritable gay misanthropes, of course.
Decent straight people, I do not mean you.
r310, the haters aren't straights, they're DLers mad because the hero is a 7 ft tall black man in his 30's, and not the young white stud who looks like he just stepped off a porn shoot that it seems like everyone wants.
While the rest of America celebrates, there are a lot of gays who feel like that. I was in conversation with some people last night who were like "oh I wish he were hotter" and "oh he's not my type" and I was flabbergasted. Not only because I think he is very handsome, but also because with gay men it seems like you can never win.
We sometimes seem hardwired to hate each other ( and, by extension, ourselves). It's totally sick.
Some of you bitches are so rude.
"I wish he were hotter..."? Where do these idiots live? They make gay people sound like ridiculous, shallow fools! Gay or straight, I guess there are plenty of idiots to go around.
The problem with half these posts is that people don't bother to read before opining.
1) Re: Carolyn Moos, she is doing the opposite of playing the victim. She's being entirely gracious and classy. During a chunk of their eight year engagement, she was also playing pro basketball, and Collins was based in several cities and on the road much of the year. Long-distance relationships work on different timelines than conventional ones. For R306: try remedial reading lessons. She's discussing her FORMER timeline because the interviewer asked about kids. The article also made the point that absolutely nobody close to Collins realized he was gay. I'm guessing he kept his feelings buried deep and private. His clarity now doesn't mean he was equally clear in his 20s.
2) For those saying Collins is unimportant or unimpressive as a player, from ESPN:
[quote]Collins is...universally loved in the NBA. He's smart, funny and a wheelbarrow full of sunshine in the locker room. He only cares about defense, not scoring points, which is why he'll probably sign for one last season -- his 13th -- somewhere in the league this fall. Playing everywhere from New Jersey to Memphis to Minnesota to Atlanta to Boston to Washington, he's got more friends than Mark Zuckerberg. He couldn't tell them all ahead of time.
You know how bitchy fags can be.
There's certainly a backlash. Typical post on many sites:
[quote]I am so tired of people calling this guy a hero. A hero would have done this 15 years ago before it was cool and accepted. And let's be 100% frank here, he ruined a woman's life for 8 years and left her 1 month before they were to be married. She's been in the dark for 4 years as to why he broke her heart. He is not courageous, he is a coward that finally came out. I don't give a darn if you are gay Jason Collins, that is between you and God. But when you ruin people's lives and then others call you courageous for it afterwards, you are a fake, a phony, a coward, and you should be ashamed of yourself for that (at least).
As for wasting 8 years of his ex's life, would they be saying this if she had been left for another woman? Straight guys dump long-term girlfriends all the time.
R311, seriously who would say NO to his BIG BLACK DICK?!!
That's very true about straight guys, but they aren't called heroes thereafter.
К318, shut up your filthy pussy!
Sadly, I think all these intense media attention on him will only make gay athletes lock their closet door and not come out. I don't see a domino effect anytime soon.
I agree r320. Plus, he only has one season left, tops.
Watching the Oprah interview now. What a charming guy.
Gay former NFL player Esera Tuaolo identifies with Jason Collins as a Christian. "I can relate to everything he is going through because it is what I went through," Mr. Tuaolo said. "One thing really caught my attention because I'm a Christian, and when he said he's a Christian it was an amazing confirmation."
Jason Collins really is the perfect person to be the first active professional athlete to come out of the closet. He's intelligent, well-spoken, well-educated (a pro who actually completed his degree and at Stanford, no less), and has a long enough history in the NBA to have earned the respect of fellow players through his work ethic, hard play, and leadership in the locker room. And it doesn't hurt that he's black. He crushes A LOT of stereotypes.
I agree with you, R324. I also think straight people (particularly straight men) are going to have an easier time cheering for a nice, humble "I'm just here to help these other guys score" character player who is gay than a starting lineup superstar with an over-sized ego.
And on a shallow note: you'd have to be a grand wizard in the Klan to claim this tall drink of water is anything short of extremely handsome.
[quote] I also think straight people (particularly straight men) are going to have an easier time cheering for a nice, humble "I'm just here to help these other guys score" character player who is gay than a starting lineup superstar with an over-sized ego.
Excellent point. Most basketball superstars are divisive figures, if only for the team they play with, but if an over-sized ego is added into the mix, they are lightening rods for all sorts of criticism, never mind their sexuality. Some posters upthread suggested that Collins' coming out isn't as meaningful because he's not an idol or a superstar. Believe me, I don't think any good would come from a LeBron James or a Kevin Garnett coming out. There are all sorts of personality issues that can muddy criticism. Collins doesn't have this baggage.
[quote]So did he break up with her over the phone with the announcement? What a horrible way to be dumped.
I find that a post-it is a far more appropriate approach.
Very true r325. A superstar is nice but he would be too much of a divider. A supporting player is likeable.
r328, a supporting player is also not memorable to Joe Six Pack and doesn't do anything to shatter stereotypes b/c of his low profile.
Good for him, though. I hate the closet and fully support his decision, but let's not be naive about his impact.
[quote], a supporting player is also not memorable to Joe Six Pack and doesn't do anything to shatter stereotypes b/c of his low profile.
Wanna bet? There are loads of NBA Joe Six Packs out there who know precisely who Collins is and what his role in the game has been throughout his career. The JCLs and bandwagoners? Not at all. But serious fans know who he is.
r330, do you think that will translate into any real tolerance or influence higher profile players to come out?
I don't follow sports much anymore, so my perspective is more from a larger cultural standpoint.
I believe so. It's part of the process for the fans to separate men from stereotypes. It's inevitable that some are going to step back and go "Damn!" and do a little bit of soul-searching. I don't think this will be the norm by any means. It also helps that he's gotten a lot of high profile support from players and management alike. Will it lead to others coming out? Not very soon I don't think. I do think we'll see more ex-players stepping forward, though. I haven't been on the imdb sports board in a long time. I might mosey over there and see what they're saying. It's testosterone central.
Why will people post about a sports figure on a movie site?
It has a very active sports board. IMDb has all sorts of forum topics unrelated to entertainment. Politics, cooking, religion and philosophy, etc.
I find it utterly fascinating that with Frank Ocean and Jason Collins coming out, it is black guys who are pushing the envelope, breaking new boundaries and opening peoples' eyes. I never would have expected it, given what they're up against in the generally conservative black community, but I am thrilled that it's worked out this way.
Does he have a boyfriend?
We don't really know. He steadfastly refuses to talk about his private life. Frank Bruni did a Q & A with him and asked about other players in the NBA. He said he didn't know of any which I don't believe. I think he's trying to avoid dragging others in. The only public relationship he's had is with Carolyn Moos, so she's inevitably caught up.
R335, don't take this as snark. But you seem to be forgetting about people like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Bayard Rustin, Zora Neale Hurston, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey,James Weldon Johnson, the many, many LGBT people who basically were the Harlem Renaissance.... These were all people who lived openly and courageously. I could truly go on and on with names.
African Americans and Black Americans have generally been conservative ( though changing) specifically regarding gay marriage, which isn't the only gay issue, and which also isn't an issue that even all gay people support or at least prioritize/care about given that Republicans enjoy approximately 25-30 percent support from the LGBT community. I just wanted to post this, not to take away from what Frank and Jason have both done and the courage it took, but because it's important to remember important figures/trailblazers in LGBT history.
This could be the beginning of the end of the closet cases in sports.
What would professional beard wives do? That profession may be endangered.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WTVR)–Kevin Grayson has won championships at every level of competition–high school, college and professionally–and he has carried a secret each step of the way.
He is one of the most decorated football players Central Virginia has ever seen, and he happens to be gay.
“People didn’t believe it because I was an athlete,” Grayson said in an exclusive interview with CBS 6.
“They’re like ‘Kevin plays football, he plays basketball he runs track–no way you know?’”
“Those are the types of things where if I could go back and say; ‘Why can’t I be an athlete? Why can’t I be a star player? Why can’t I be the guy making plays that helps my team win, and still on the flip side, be a gay male?’”
Grayson was named all district and all-region while playing both offense and defense at L.C. Bird High School in Chesterfield.
In college he helped the University of Richmond Spiders win the Football Championship Subdivision national title in 2008, and while playing professionally in Italy last year he was named MVP of his league’s super bowl.
But his sexuality remained hidden from many of his coaches and all but a handful of trusted teammates, largely because of the culture that exists in America’s favorite sport
Grayson has “no doubt” there are gay players in the NFL currently, and admits to knowing some active players himself. But, he explained that “it’s one of those things where you meet someone and you find out about something it’s a ‘you take it to the grave’ type thing.”
The locker room is considered a sanctuary in sports, where just about everything concerning a team is dealt with and never carried beyond the doors. Because of that, coaches and players tend to act and talk differently than they would in public or mixed company. Grayson has heard multiple slurs and homophobic insults from coaches and teammates, none of whom realized they had a gay player in their midst.
“[Sometimes] it’s just watching film” Grayson said.
“You know, it’s like ‘Stop being a princess, stop being a faggot,’ uou know– ‘Homo!’”
“While you’re in the football aspect of it, no one is really thinking about it. Hyper-masculine sport. You have coaches that are, I guess, just naive to the fact that they could have a gay player in their meeting,” said Grayson. ”A couple of times I laughed at it. I thought it was funny to think about whether or not if I told this coach, what would they say?”
But it never really crossed Grayson’s mind to come out before now. Not because he was embarrassed, but because his focus was on school and football and any distraction would have put a spotlight on the entire team, one that Grayson wasn’t willing to shine.
“You don’t want to be the focus in that way,” Grayson explained. “Not to say that it’s a negative, but when you have people just asking questions about your sexuality and how teammates are taking it, it takes away from the importance of the preseason.”
“If you are an athlete, you want to be an athlete,” he said. “You want to be known for what you’ve done on the basketball court, football field, tennis court, whatever. You don’t want to be that person who it’s always ‘the “gay” athlete.’”
Dr. Leticia Flores is a clinical psychologist at VCU specializing in issues of sexual and gender identity. She explained that some gays and lesbians spend much of their day trying to remember who might know about their sexuality, trying to guess how their friends..family and co-workers might react.
For athletes, and male athletes particularly, she said the stress can be compounded by societies’ perception of how they are supposed to behave.
“Male athletes are seen to be very masculine, very macho, a guy’s guy,” Dr. Flores said. “And people’s stereotypes and biases against gay men is that they are the opposite of a guy’s guy.”
“It’s that extra pressure that you can’t even remotely show something that would lead someone to suspect you,” Grayson said. “So it makes it ten times harder.”
Some of that pressure was relieved when Grayson chose to confide in a few trusted teammates, some of whom he found out were also gay and none of which shunned or turned their back on him. Now he is sharing his story with everyone, not only for the release for himself, but to hopefully inspire others hiding behind one too many masks.
“There’s clearly a relief and that relief comes from finally being themselves,” Dr. Flores said. “We call it being, in the psych jargon, being authentic. But you’re who you are and you don’t have to wear the mask anymore”
Said Grayson of confiding in select teammates: “It’s like the biggest weight lifted off your shoulder. To know that you have a teammate that basically says ‘I don’t care.’”
“Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you can’t be the athlete you want to be. Doesn’t mean you can’t be a star. Doesn’t mean you can’t go out there and go just as hard as anybody else, if not harder,” said Grayson.
Grayson added that he was helped tremendously by a strong support system of friends and family. Without that, he calls hiding one’s sexuality “a cancer that can eat away at you.”
He shares his story now to be something of an inspiration to others in similar situations to seek out their own support systems and put away the masks.
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds further public acceptance of gay rights in the United States, in areas ranging from the professional basketball court to the Boy Scouts, as well as the institution of marriage.
Nearly seven in 10 Americans support the decision by professional basketball player Jason Collins to disclose publicly that he’s gay, the survey finds. Most support the Boy Scouts of America’s plan to admit gay scouts, while opposing its continued ban on gay adults. And 55 percent say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry legally.
See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.
While partisan and ideological differences on each of these are large, centrist groups – e.g., independents and moderates – tilt the balance, underscoring a dramatic shift in favor of gay rights that’s accelerated in recent years.
STRENGTH OF SENTIMENT – Backing is widest and deepest for Collins, with 68 percent of Americans saying they support the NBA center’s decision to announce his sexual orientation. Those who “strongly” support his step outnumber his strong critics by a 3-1 margin.
A substantial 63 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, also support the Boy Scouts’ plan to begin admitting gay scouts younger than 18, while 56 percent oppose its intention to continue to ban gay adults. Again strength of sentiment favors gay rights, by 16- and 12-point margins, respectively. Both policies go to a vote of the group’s governing council, meeting the week of May 20 in Grapevine, Texas.
Some of these views even overcome political sentiment to some degree. Majorities of Republicans and conservatives, 52 and 54 percent, respectively, support Collins’ step, and 53 percent of Republicans support admitting gay scouts. These groups are much less apt to support admitting gay scout leaders or legalizing gay marriage.
Support’s far higher in other groups. Nearly three-quarters of moderates and independents support Collins, as do more than eight in 10 Democrats and liberals. Than two-thirds or more in each of these groups favor admitting gay scouts, and six in 10 or more oppose continuing to ban gay adults from scouting.
Support for gay marriage, for its part, reaches six in 10 or more in each of these groups, far higher than its support among conservatives and Republicans, 33 percent in both groups.
There are other differences among groups. Gender differences are especially wide on one issue: While men divide about evenly on the question of gay scout leaders, women oppose their exclusion by nearly 2-1. There’s a customary age gap on each item, with support for gay rights higher among younger adults; most strikingly, 76 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds favor gay marriage, while just 39 percent of seniors agree. And on all issues except scout leaders there’s a gap among education groups, with more-educated adults more supportive of gay rights.
ABC/Post polls since 2003 have asked if people think it “should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married”; the number saying this should be legal rose from a low of 32 percent (among registered voters) in 2004 to 58 percent this March. This poll asks people if they support or oppose “allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.” Support is similar, 55 percent, while strength of sentiment divides more closely. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on two gay marriage cases next month.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone May 1-5, 2013, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,008 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS/Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | 2:01 a.m.
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Pro basketball player Jason Collins is getting a lot of attention for a much-hyped coming out. In the sports world, it doesn’t get bigger than the cover of Sports Illustrated, and that’s what Collins got, along with a lengthy, self-penned piece acknowledging his sexuality. Yep, Jason’s gay. But even as Collins supposedly liberates himself, he indulges in stereotypes that one would have thought were left behind decades ago. It’s being called a step forward, and it is, but it’s also a step back.
The big four professional men’s sports — baseball, football, hockey and basketball — have never featured an openly gay active player, which is what makes Collins’ declaration significant. The announcement was the culmination of efforts in the works for years, led in particular by former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo — a straight player who has pushed the NFL to open up on gay-related issues. Indeed, Collins’ coming out is expected to be the first of many among professional athletes. Gay men, it turns out, can do sports as well as they can do hair.
That last sentence, by the way, indulges in a stereotype, and a pernicious one at that. And in his SI piece, Collins disturbingly appears to do the same.
“I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: That guy is gay?” Collins writes. Yet it seems clear from his piece that he buys into those same stereotypes and admires himself for resisting them. He’s gay, you know, but not “gay.” Even after coming to terms with his sexuality, for instance, he says “I still had the same mannerisms.” And, he says, “Note to Shaq: My flopping has nothing to do with being gay.”
And, in particular, Collins latches on to the effeminate man stereotype. Collins has a reputation as an aggressive player. “I take charges and I foul — that’s been my forte.” And why is that? “Am I so physical to prove that being gay doesn’t make you soft? Who knows?”
Collins describes himself as deeply closeted, living a “double life” for some time. In fact, until Collins told him last year, even his twin brother didn’t know. He “never suspected.”
Which makes you wonder. While living his double life, did Collins have to hide a true love for Broadway show tunes? Did he refuse to allow teammates to his home for fear they might see how exceptionally neat it was? Did he have to dress down so fans wouldn’t pick up on his sense of high fashion?
These stereotypes cut both ways, of course. Self-professed straight men who like to cook, don’t follow sports and are mild-mannered instead of hyper-aggressive are suspected of being closeted. And a guy who’s friends — just friends — with a woman? Well, per “Will and Grace,” you know what that means.
One can discuss forever the nature and truth of stereotypes. At some level, many are accurate. People within a certain subgroup will often develop ways of doing things that are different from others. Through much of history, homosexuality has been outside the norm, with gays often isolated and reviled by conventional society. Some jobs were more open to gays, while some behaviors were used as a way for one gay man to signal to another that they might be members of the same minority. Over time, subcultures developed.
But just as with the stereotype that men of Irish descent have an inclination to beer, these behaviors are choices, not compulsions. There is no genetic link between the Irish and beer, nor is there a genetic link between sexual orientation and the limpness of one’s wrist.
If one looks at people as individuals, rather than groups, you’ll find that — straight or gay — there are a wide variety of behaviors that express themselves as masculine or feminine. One of the triumphs of feminism and gay rights has been to broaden and break down the pigeonholes we have used to define what it means to be a man or a woman. Yet even as the old stereotypes are fading away, Jason Collins seems to hold on to a constrained and outdated sense of what it means to be a man.
Tom Keane writes for the Boston Globe.
Love, love, love. NBA star Jason Collins has inspired so many people to share their own stories. One of the latest: Seventeen-year-old Leo Washington of Hollywood. Washington is the co-captain of the Hollywood Hills High School football team ... and openly gay.
The teen transferred to Hollywood Hills HS after being repeatedly bullied in Georgia, reports Miami's CBS 4. Now he is described as the"best defensive lineman" on the district champion's team.
Whether he’s in shoulder pads and a helmet, or walking the field with a Michael Kors bag on his shoulder, Leo knows who he is and has the respect and friendship of his team and classmates. "This is who I am today, athletic, smart, intelligent, nice and comfortable in my own skin," said Leo. "They have taken me in as their own brother and I will protect them from any other school that tries to come at them and disrespect them."
If anyone were to pick on him," said teammate Eli Gottlieb. "We would all have his back. If anyone were to pick on us for anything about us, he would have our back."
"[Washington] had several opportunities for football scholarships, but he said in college he’s following his other passion. He’s getting a degree in fashion."
And that's what makes this story especially interesting: Leo Washington doesn't fit the "hyper masculine" stereotype of a football player ... but he is very good at what he does, walking in his truth and "comfortable in his own skin." Werk! More in my analysis for EBONY, "Jason Collins Has “Reframed the Conversation” Around Sports, Blacks and Homophobia."
Before Collins, few thought basketball would have the first male out athlete.
Who's his boyfriend? Did we miss that?
On the heels of NBA player Jason Collins' announcement earlier this month that he is gay -- making him the first active team athlete in a major American sport to declare such -- we have another basketball player announcing the same. He's not a pro, though. He doesn't play for a major college program. He doesn't even play in Division I.
Outsports.com profiled on Tuesday a man named Jallen Messersmith. The 20-year-old junior-to-be is a forward at NAIA Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. In taking this step, it's believed he becomes the first active male college basketball player in this era to announce he is gay.
Despite coming off the bench last season, Messersmith was the team leader in blocks (by a wide margin), swatting nearly two shots per game.
Here's a sampling from Outsport.com's piece on how, when and why Messersmith opted to go public.
He was raised a Mormon. He was bullied so badly in pre-adolesence that he was home-schooled. ... A 6-8, 215-pound openly gay Mormon basketball player at a Catholic school in Middle America Kansas seems an anomaly. Messersmith, though, fits in perfectly with his teammates and was embraced after he came out last fall, first to his coaches and then over time to his teammates. ...
"When I came out, there was nobody in my sport I could" relate to, Messersmith said about why he agreed to share his story. "I always wanted to put it out there and I had a great experience with it and I wanted to show people it could be fine."...
Messersmith thrived at Benedictine in his freshman year, but was still not out to anyone. A tragedy jolted him into action.
"My freshman year, one of my teammates passed away in a car accident [in December 2011]," he said. "When that happened, I looked at myself and asked 'What am I? What am I doing?' At that point, I had accepted that I was gay. Seeing him die young and in such a sudden manner, I didn't want something that was such a big part of what I am to be hidden. I wanted it to be something I was out about, I was proud of being and that people accepted me more. I did not want that to be hidden for the rest of my life."
Messersmith passed on his personal secret to his parents more than a year ago, then told his coaches and teammates last fall. Leading up to the decision, he went through anxiety and talked to a counselor.
In a Q&A with the school's website, Messersmith lists his hobbies outside of hoops as piano, drawing and reading. He hopes to go on to coach one day. The team went 18-12 last year in part because Messersmith led Benedictine's conference in blocks. This news also comes days after Robbie Rogers joined the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer, becoming the first openly gay player in that league's history.
He threw out first pitch at Red Sox game last night.
A$AP Rocky is apologizing to NBA basketball player Jason Collins for his actions at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, which sparked rumors that the rapper was homophobic.
When the duo introduced Macklemore‘s performance of ‘Strange Love’ during the awards show on Aug. 25, Rocky looked visibly uncomfortable around the openly-gay Collins, who made a speech about gay rights.
The A$AP Mob leader explained himself to The Stashed, detailing what happened that night.
“I’m mad that my facial expressions was like that because I’m not homophobic at all, and that whole thing just came off real homophobic,” Rocky admits. “I didn’t really notice it until I got home and saw it. I apologize to Jason for that, because people was laughing and s—, and you know… I really don’t think that’s funny. I saw they were making all the memes and pictures and making fun of him.”
He also shared that he wasn’t too fond of MTV pairing him with Collins if he was going to be addressing the topic. “There’s people out there that think I was doing that to be funny, and truthfully I got gay people in my family,” Rocky states. “I don’t give a f— if you gay or you not, I just found it odd that MTV wanted to stand me next to this n—- when they are talking about gay people, that’s all. You know what I’m saying?”
On the music front, A$AP Rocky and his A$AP Mob will debut a collaborative LP on Oct. 15. The project is currently untitled.
With NBA training camp officially underway, veteran free agent Jason Collins has finally joined a team -- in a gay kickball league ... TMZ has learned.
The 34-year-old took the field in the Varsity Gay kickball league in Hollywood this week -- playing 1st base for "Team Twerk."
Collins was a little rusty on the field -- dropping an easy pop fly in the beginning of the game, but our gay kickball sources tell us he quickly got his act together and played like a stud the rest of the game.
In the end, Team Twerk emerged victorious -- pulling out an 11 to 5 victory.
We're told Jason isn't fully committed to the team, since he's still trying to sign with an NBA squad -- but he's the go-to substitute when the team is short on players.
Funny, that's kind of his situation in the NBA too.
"Oh my God. I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We finally really did it ... You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!"
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