Jason Collins Gay: NBA Star Makes History as First “Out” Male Professional Athlete

Well, someone had to be the first active professional athlete to sashay out of the closet; and former Washington Wizards center Jason Collins says he’s happy to be the one. Collins, an NBA hoopster since 2001, has made history as the nation’s first openly gay professional athlete.

Collins told Sports Illustrated Monday:

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I’m glad I can stop hiding and refocus on my 13th NBA season.”

Several male athletes have previously come out after they retired, but Collins is the first to do so while still in the league. Collins’ coming out has been praised by Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network and MSNBC host:

“The announcement made by NBA center Jason Collins today about being a gay male marks the first time a professional athlete has openly confirmed his sexuality. This is a breakthrough moment in sports and another step towards tolerance and fairness in the African-American community. I salute the courage and candor of Mr. Collins and think he has made a great contribution to this country and I call on others in the civil rights community and the African-American leadership of all fields to embrace this development. We can’t be custodians of intolerance and freedom fighters at the same time. In order to fight for anyone’s civil rights and self expression we must fight for everyone’s civil rights. God Bless Jason Collins for helping to show us the way.”

Advocacy organization GLAAD also released a statement championing Jason’s “courage,” writing:

“‘Courage’ and ‘inspiration’ are words that get thrown around a lot in sports, but Jason Collins has given both ideas a brand new context. We hope that his future team will welcome him, and that fans of the NBA and sports in general will applaud him.”

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