Will Jason Collins’ coming out party change the game?

(Celeb Pic)

Jason Collins stands alone as the only active gay male athlete in sports. 

Washington Wizards center Jason Collins’ announcement that he is gay has changed the game in ways he could only dream about as a player. A fringe player for most of his 12 seasons in the NBA, Collins just cracked the starting lineup as the first active, openly gay male athlete in American sports.

Collins overcame a lifetime of fears and anxiety before making his announcement. Are we ready to get into the game or do we need another scrimmage or two?

“I’m a 34-year old center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” – Jason Collins 

Jason Collins decided to break the story about his sexual orientation in the May 6th issue of Sports Illustrated. Honestly, I didn’t expect the first athlete to come out to be an active NBA player. Heavy politicking by NFL player Brendon Ayenbadejo led me to believe there would be several NFL ballers to break through what has become the last barrier in sports.

If you were betting on an NBA player coming out, was your money on Jason Collins being the first? Didn’t think so.

Collins spoke about revealing his sexuality to family and friends most notably to his twin brother Jarrod — who never suspected his brother was gay (as teammates they led Stanford to a No. 1  ranking in 2001). Even more telling was the discussion he had with his grandmother and her fears of what his declaration would mean in 2013. Being a black male athlete brings about its own stereotypes. Add gay to the handle and things could get very ugly.

Collins is a learned young man and comes across as someone who was raised the right way. He knows the significance of his decision to go public and wanted to do so after the Wizards season — as to not be a distraction to the team. Collins is well aware of issues surrounding gay marriage, etc, although there was a time when he chose to fade into the background. His moment of clarity came during the NBA lockout when basketball wasn’t present.  It was then where Collins looked within himself and embraced what he had been running from.

While in Boston, Collins selected the number 98 because of its significance in the gay community. One of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died five days after he was finally found. That same year the Trevor Project was founded. This amazing organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to kids struggling with their sexual identity.

Collins has made it clear he wants to play in the NBA next season and is prepared for whatever kind of backlash may come his way.

Not from players, but the fans.

“As far as the reaction of fans, I don’t mind if they heckle me. I’ve been booed before. There have been times when I’ve wanted to boo myself. But a lot of ill feelings can be cured by winning.”

Two years ago, I wondered if we were ready to deal with a situation like this. I’m probably less sure now than I was then. I know in the time that’s passed, people have become less compassionate towards many things — even life itself. Social media has given us a view into racism and sexism that is flat-out scary. I can only imagine what is being said or written about Jason Collins at this moment.

I admit there was time when an openly gay man or woman in my presence made me uncomfortable. But with so much going on in today’s world I’m jumpy around those we deem as being straight.

Maybe the time is right for Collins to come out. After all he’s lived his NBA dream and made and enormous amount of money doing it. If he chooses to walk away tomorrow he can and no one would bat an eyelash. My concern lies with that Alabama All-State defensive lineman — who knows  he’s gay and wants to come out knowing he’s putting everything on the line. Or the All-City point guard — who wants to out himself, but knows there’s an unwritten code on gays in his ‘hood.

In a generation where independence and individuality are preached — persecution lingers for those who dare to be different. Collins took a commendable stand for his own life, sealed by the words of his former coach Doc Rivers; “If you want to go quickly, go by yourself—if you want to go farther, go in a group.”

For now Collins is walking alone — eagerly waiting others, gay or straight to catch up.





9 Responses to “Will Jason Collins’ coming out party change the game?”

  1. mapoui says:

    Why am I totally unimpressed and uncaring about this coming out?

    why am I totally unimpressed with this whole gay issue and the machinations of the Gay Lobby…..an entity that now appears to be totally impressed with its power to make the whole planet gay?

    the gay lobby now dictates to nations, appearing to force countries into passing legislation that legalises everything gay..or else!!!

    interesting but disgusting.

    I see no reason why gay activity cant be dealt with unofficially….why gays cant be protected under regular law at the same time.

    why must gay activity be made legal, adopting children etc…..the young educated into acceptance of this lifestyle that leads nowhere?

    if Collins is gay that’s his dam business. why must I as a basketball fan have to deal with his actions as a gay man… how he wants to handle it?

    I am fed up with all this in-our face homosexuality. I am getting the impression there are more of them now, than us.

    I hope this does not turn out to be like another famous issue where to say anything at all about Gays and their issues would lead to prosecution and jailing of individuals.

    the way the gay lobby is moving and the growth of their power I would say 5-10 years before we see a gay gag on everyone.

    who cares about Collins and his love of men. I don’t! I don’t want to know

  2. Ryan M. says:

    Is Mapoui attempting satire? I hope this post is an ill conceived, poorly presented case of satire to illustrate how hysterical, uniformed, and bigoted some people can be.

  3. mapoui says:

    first one Ryan! I expect a million more like your response.

    and it is no attempt at satire. its part what I think.

    the homosexual issue as it is developing is not good for human beings..for society. it is not being handled in a positive manner.

    I don’t agree and I am tired of it. an I am tired being hit on by men in my routine life.

    for the past 2 days every time I tuned into a sports page I have had to deal with Jason Collins. I got pissed so I stopped tuning in.
    I have that choice..just as the sports pages can cover what issues they like.

    I see the issue here too so I can commented..respectfully.

    (gay lobby..the american gay and lesbian lobby)

  4. mapoui says:

    I cant see the Jason Collins issue apart from how I see the gay issue currently.

    the gay issue driven by american experience and power went off the rails some time ago.

    as a minority ordinary movement it contained revolutionary elements that are now lost in an elitist Lobby that is as fascist as Obama’s government.

    to solve gay problems, the problems of all minorities, takes the development of a real democracy. so by interest the gay movement ought to be ideologically consistent with revolutionary social principles.

    at this stage I don’t see that it is. I see a a gay movement that is part of elitist social attack on the majority..a movement co-opted and in sync with the enemies of ordinary social interest.

    I thought I would start an argument here that might lead to some exploration of this and related issues.

    I am no saint and perfect person. I am a product of my social experience. we all know what that has been and is and the human potential that can manifest out of it.

    but I am prepared to deal with it. I am not unbiased on the gay issue. I can say I am very practical and try to discover truth and apply it however best in my general movement.

    the core gay community are born with their sexual orientation. there is no blame to be shared on that score. as living human beings gays have all the rights of humanity and these must be accorded

    but this cannot be achieved save in a real honest democracy achieved by ordinary folk rising up to end exploitative society.

    it is the same with the rights of the majority ordinary population as with the minorities. all such have this social interest in common..the saving of society by the creation of real democracy.

    if my language coveys perceived ‘untoward’ feelings and attitude towards gays so be it. I can only change that in positive experience.

    in a positive social reality we would have no difficulty with such as Collins, how the gay community fits socially..how all minorities fit socially. this is what gays should be fighting for, should be ideologically disposed towards.

    guided by human basic objective to survive, the ordinary people having freed themselves from exploitative relations would be free to create positive inclusive society..changing formative social experience in ways that produces developed human beings increasingly capable of dealing positively, humanly with all social issues.

    we are relatively imperfect now and we must become relatively perfect in order to survive

    I don’t see that the gay movement is so consistent with this..what I consider to be the essential approach to overall current social crisis.

    that movement is off the rails, heading in directions inconsistent with its own best social interest..co-opted and now elitist and part of elitist activity against ordinary folk?

    am I totally wrong Ryan..or are you not amenable to criticism?

    are you perfect where I am not?

  5. Maurice says:

    The biggest laugh I got out of all this is that the big “coming out” party for gay men in the 4 major sports was initiated by a career scrub who most people outside of diehard NBA fans have even heard of. Now if it was Melo or Lebron trumpeting his love of sodomy, then that would’ve been serious news. I think Jason Collins is just trying to ensure he’s employed in the NBA next season. You know there is going to be one NY Jets type NBA analog who’ll offer him a contract just for the hype it’ll generate.

  6. Miranda says:

    These comparisons by some in the media to Jason being Jackie Robinson is absurd and insulting. And exactly why is it that Billie Jean King, Greg Louganis, Sheryl Swoopes, etc. not count?

  7. Ron Glover says:

    I’m doing something on that now Miranda. There is no comparison.

  8. mattie says:

    You can note that both Jackie Robinson and Jason Collins were fighting for civil rights and the courage it took while recognizing that their struggles were by no means even close to being equivalent.

  9. mattie says:

    I recognize the danger of comparing the two, as there is a tendency for the audience to make false assumptions.