Target: Basketball Player, Jason Collins
Goal: Praise Jason Collins for his brave act of coming out as a gay man despite being an active player
Jason Collins, a professional basketball player with the National Basketball Association (NBA), has become the first openly gay athlete currently participating in an American sport. Collins, who will turn 35 this year, is a free agent center who started his career in 2001 for the New Jersey Nets, now known as the Brooklyn Nets. After 12 long years in the league, Collins decided to reveal his sexual orientation in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
Being an openly gay professional athlete is a huge deal, as no other athlete has ever come out during his active years. Furthermore, other professional athletes have spoken against homosexuality. For example, Chris Culliver, a cornerback with the San Francisco 49ers, had stated that he would not welcome gay athletes in the locker room and that if there were gay athletes playing today, they would need to come out after they have retired from the sport. Due to the controversy surrounding homosexuality, Collin’s decision to tell the world of his sexuality is extremely admirable and brave. He must be praised for changing the sports community for the better.
Collins just finished the 2012-2013 season playing for both the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. In Collin’s interview, he explained that although he wanted to come out, he did not want to do it during the season. He stated that he wanted to respect his teammates and organizations, which is why his decision to come out had to happen during the off-season. Collins’ choice to tell people and fans that he is gay is a huge step for the gay community. Athletics is usually considered a highly masculine field that gay men do not fit into, and Collins is able to help break down that old stereotype and open the door for other gay athletes.
In the interview, Collins stated: “No one wants to live in fear. I’ve always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don’t sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.”
Not only was Collins mindful of his teams, fellow athletes, and the NBA for waiting, his decision to tell the world of his sexuality will change sports forever. Although Collins is not the first gay athlete to ever come out, he is the first one to do so while still being an active player. His brave act must be acknowledged and praised.
Dear Jason Collins,
Your recent interview with Sports Illustrated revealing your sexuality was inspiring. There are no openly gay athletes currently playing in any of the top American professional sports, and your decision to come out will hopefully help others feel more welcome to do so as well. Bottling up a huge secret because of the fear of how other teammates, fans, or team organizations will judge you can take a toll. Athletes should respect each other and have a right to play on the same teams regardless of sexual orientation.
Sports are linked to masculinity and so many people do not believe that gay men should be involved with sports. Although there are professional athletes that have spoken for the gay community, there are also the select others that condemn gay athletes and state that they do not belong in the locker room. Your decision to tell the world of your sexual orientation will hopefully change the conversations about gay athletes.
Your decision to come out despite still being a free agent is highly admirable and must be praised.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Batistaya via Wikimedia Commons