Jason Collins, a center for the NBA's Washington Wizards, has become the first active male athlete in a major professional sport to come out as gay. The 34 year-old free agent who played 34 games for the Celtics this season and is now with the Washington Wizards, revealed his sexuality in an op-ed he penned for Sport Illustrated.
Saying that he got the push he needed to come out from the Boston Bombings, when he realized that things could change in an instant, and he no longer wanted to wait for the perfect circumstance to reveal his true self, he starts the piece by saying, “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,” he says.
In the piece, he also writes that he struggled with his sexuality for years – he had even been engaged to a woman, but that had more to do with the pre-conceived notion he had of what his life was supposed be like, rather than what he had actually wanted for himself.
“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,” he writes.
He had also felt a sense of loyalty to his teammates that had hindered him from revealing his sexuality, but now that he has become a free agent, both “literally and figuratively,” he says, he can do exactly what he wants – which is to continue playing the sport that he loves while also being “genuine and authentic and truthful.”
Collins’ twin brother, to whom Collins came out to last summer, wrote a few words of encouragement for his brother on his Twitter early Monday morning before the story went live.
Baron Davis, New York Knicks point guard, also tweeted for Collins.