You would have to have been living under a rock to not know that finally, a male athlete has come out who is a professional player in one of the four big sports in the U.S. Jason Collins is a 34 year old basketball player, currently a free agent, but very well regarded with a very successful career so far. Of course there have already been religious wingnuts saying that he’s living a sinful life and that gay lifestyle is the work of the devil, blah blah blah.
Today I had a bit of a mild disagreement with a work colleague about Jason’s coming out. Let me state from the outset that my colleague, for all his faults, is far from homophobic. He was saying it was crap that everyone was focusing on his coming out and being gay and that they should be focusing on his fantastic success in the NBA. Sure, in an ideal world that would be the case. No I hadn’t heard of him before today but that’s not because he was ignored before, it’s because I don’t follow the NBA. One day it won’t be news when someone comes out and they won’t even have to, but to be the first openly gay man actively playing in Basketball, Football, Baseball or Hockey in the U.S. is absolutely huge news. There’s a very real chance that LGBT kids won’t be afraid of joining a sporting team because of the old, outdated, inaccurate cliche that queers don’t play sports.
Jason has shown huge courage in coming out, risking endorsements, possible contracts with teams and even putting his twin brother, also an NBA player at risk of harassment. Congratulations Jason. If you want to read a massive number of very supportive tweets, including one from the First Lady Michelle Obama, click here.