Jason Collins, NBA Center, "Comes Out" as Being Gay

Jason Collins, a professional basketball athlete, has come out to the world as being gay.  I applaud his courage, sincerity, honesty, and narrative in the current issue of Sports Illustrated,  of what led up to this brave decision. http://tinyurl.com/cb8b6yu

It was only 3 weeks ago, Rutgers basketball star, Brittney Griner, the #1 Women’s basketball player, came out as lesbian.  This did not stop her from being drafted as the first pick by the Phoenix Mercury.  Nor  did any uproar from the public emerge. And Griner soon signed  a large contract with Nike.

Imagine that.  Nike signs a deal with a lesbian basketball player.  Would they do so with a gay, male of the same sport?  Jim Buzinski, founder of Outsports.com, a website for GLBT athletes, noted that if a man came out, “Everyone’s head would explode,” as Sam Border noted in his April 18th New York Times article.

There are five different arenas to which a gay/ lesbian/ transgendered person “comes out:”

1)    his/ her family

2)    his/ her co-workers/ colleagues on the job

3)    his/ her friends

4)    his/ her wives/ husbands/ live-in boyfriends/ girlfriends

5)    his/ her community/ the public

Each decides on his/ her own, the timing, the place, the situation, and how safe the “outing” will be.  Collins came out to a friend he trusted, heterosexual Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, his old roommate at Stanford. And to his aunt, a superior court judge living in San Francisco, who replied that she had known for years.

But the question remains, “why now?”  As the SI story tells us, it was ultimately the Boston Marathon tragedy,  that became the final straw. Playing for the Boston Celtics, he was “up front and close” to the fact, as he points out, that life can change “in an instant,’ and ultimately it was time.

Well Jason, I can’t predict how the community or public will respond to you. Nor if you will be re-signed to another NBA team after the Celtics let you go this week.  But I can tell you, there are role models who went on to gain support and lead lives worth mentioning.

Kudos to Dave Pallone, the umpire who spent 10 years in the Major Leagues, and had the infamous incident with the now defamed Pete Rose.  His book, “Behind the Mask,” reveals an adolescence of growing up in Boston, playing baseball, and ultimately doing what he loved best: being in baseball as an adult.

But ugly, homophobic incidents led to his ultimate “firing” from the job he loved so dearly.  That was over 20 years ago.  His biography and ultimate action to go on speaking tours, laid a foundation for you, Brittney, Esera Tuaolo, and others to “be yourself,” as Brittney stated in her press conference.

Finally, little is remebered about Michael Huffington, ex-husband of Arianna, and father of 2 daughters.  After he lost his bid for the Senate in 1994 to Dianne Feinstein by just 1.9%, he came out as being bi-sexual.

He went on to serve in public life with a multitude of activities, including his work with Rob Reiner on passing Proposition 10 in California. This was a tax on cigarettes, which led to gaining hundreds of millions of dollars for child health care and pre-natal care.

However I recognize that your courage will have a price, as yet we have to discover:  with family, friends, other professional athletes, and of course, with your public and community at-large.

Hopefully, homophobic athletes, such as Chris Culliver from the SF 49ers, with his anti-gay comments, will become a blip on the screen, in the future.  NFL players such as Chris Kluwe from the Vikings and Brendon Ayanbadego, most recently playing for the Baltimore Ravens, have your back.

As I assume, so do many other male professional athletes.  They just have to “come out” too.

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