- Jason Collins, veteran role player on the Washington Wizards, said in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated today that “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” This makes him the first openly gay athlete on any team on a major American sports team. If you haven’t read it yet, you should read the rest of the interview before reading the rest of this article.
- I usually try and write my articles with as much objectivity as possible with a tint of fandom. That is not going to be the case for this article. I define myself as more of a member of the LGBT social movement then I define myself as someone as an objective journalist. Therefore, when I celebrate the following piece of news, those thoughts are mine and mine alone. If you disagree with me and call me, biased, that’s fine. It’s because I am.
- One of the biggest issues I’ve had with basketball is its recent history of homophobia. From the Kobe Bryant homophobic slur at a referee two years ago to even more recently the slurs by former Rutgers’ head coach Mike Rice, the NBA has had many derogatory homophobic language seems to be everywhere in the NBA. I’ve never been in an NBA locker room, but have to imagine homophobic language is even more prominent there then it is in public. For many NBA players, I’m sure that gay is synonymous with passivity and weakness. I hope Jason Collins, a big center who played a big role on the Nets team that went to back to back finals, change the way many players think about sexuality and how it is irrelevant to one’s talent on the basketball court.
- When I first heard the news, I suspected that the Wizards’ locker room and organization was going to be 100% supportive. So far, it looks like I was right. The Wizards’ organization issued a statement of support. Teammates Bradley Beal, Garrett Temple, Jan Vesely, Emeka Okafor, and Martell Webster have all come out with their support of Collins. And beyond them, tweets of support from NBA players all over the league have supported Collins’ decision to come out.
- Even with all this support, there is still work to be done. Hateful and intolerant hate is spewed by ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard. And while many have taken to the internet to offer words of support for Collins, others have done the same to offer hatred. This fight is not yet over, and will never be over. All we can do is keep pushing back.
- Jason Collins made his decision to come out because he felt we would judge him as an NBA player, not a gay individual. Jason Collins is not a good NBA player. I don’t expect him to be back on the Wizards next year. And when he’s not, it’s important to remember why.
- Finally, I’m glad I’m fans with you all. I haven’t any other Wizards fan on twitter be anything but supportive towards Collins. Maybe that’s just who I follow, but in any case, thanks for being such awesome and tolerant fans.