“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
With those words, Jason Collins has become the first openly gay athlete in a major American team sport. He came out on the May 6 cover of Sports Illustrated.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major U.S. team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation,” he tells SI.
“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.”
It’s true. The 12-year NBA veteran and former Stanford All-American has added a truly historic footnote to a solid career, however unexpected.
In 2007, retired NBA journeyman John Amaechi revealed that he was gay and has since become a major advocate for sexual equality in sports.
But until Collins’ SI cover story, no active player had come out.
To Amaechi, and other pioneers before him, such as tennis champion Martina Navratilova, as well as the straight advocates for equality in sports, he adds:
“The words thank you aren’t enough.”
There will be dialogue, and plenty of it, in the coming days and weeks and months, about the Washington Wizards center’s story as a watershed moment.
And yet, his words on the cover seem to say it all:
“PRO BASKETBALL is a family. And pretty much every family I know has a brother, sister or cousin who’s gay. In the brotherhood of the NBA, I just happen to be the one who’s out.”