Jason Collins Has Guts to Become First Openly Gay Athlete in Pro Sports

By Christopher Gamble

Jason Collins has a lot of guts. The 34-year-old Washington Wizards center is coming out and is announcing to the world that he is gay. Collins is making the announcement through Sports Illustrated and is the first pro athlete to say that he is gay while still being an active player.

What Collins is doing takes a lot of strength and bravery. He knows that there might be repercussions from his announcement. He is scheduled to become a free agent this off-season and I would be willing to bet that more than a few NBA general managers will be hesitant to introduce a gay player into a locker room in the alpha-male world of sports. Some general managers won’t care. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, recently made statements insinuating that Brittney Griner was available in the second round of the up-coming NBA Draft he would consider drafting her. Griner also recently announced she was gay. If there is room in the world of sports for the first woman then why not a gay man? Why not a gay man who has been a part of NBA locker rooms for 12 years?

Collins was originally drafted by the Houston Rockets but was traded to the New Jersey Nets, the team he appeared in two NBA Finals with and played for until 2008. Since leaving the Nets Collins has played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics and Wizards. He might be adding another team to his resume this summer. Collins has been a member of enough locker rooms so that there should be enough support for him but he will still face insults from players and fans alike. That is the sad reality.

Regardless of what team Collins plays for his bravery in coming out might inspire other athletes to do the same. Collins’ decision to announce his sexuality doesn’t have the same impact as Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball but it will surely impact hundreds and later thousands of athletes who feel they must hide their sexuality for fear of discrimination from teammates.

There will be some around the country who will condemn him, who will say that what he is doing isn’t natural. Collins will say he can finally feel natural in his own skin.

For some reason a person’s sexuality has become a hot topic for debate in Washington, D.C. and around the country where same-sex marriages often come to vote in states. Some bills pass while others are defeated adding to the debate. However, the time is quickly coming when the Constitution will truly give all men and women the equality they deserve, not as gay men and women but as Americans.

Collins will be condemned by some and championed by others. However, the reality is nothing has truly changed about Collins. The only difference is he is now open about it.

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