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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

First Step Towards Acceptance

Wild on Sports
Jason Collins reveals he is gay on the cover of Sports Illustrated
First Step Towards Acceptance
 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 in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation.

If you have been living under a rock for the past 24 hours then you missed what will go down as one of the most important announcements of a generation. Jason Collins, center for the Washington Wizzards, made a major announcement via the cover of Sports Illustrated Monday announcing that he is -- as he put it -- "the first openly gay athlete in a major sport."

Its a big deal. It took a lot of courage; bravery similar to that of Jakie Robinson breaking the color barrier. But being brave and being a smart business man in today's world does not always go hand and hand. Collins is slated to be a free agent once the NBA playoffs are complete. The league and his former teammates will all say the right things, but what does that do to the dynamic of the locker room? How does it impact his ability to find work for the 2013-14 NBA season?

"That's kind of mind-boggling. I think I talk about that. That, you know, I never set out to be the first," said Collins in a Tuesday morning interview with ABC. You're sort of waiting around for somebody else to … raise their hand. I'm ready to raise my hand but, you know, you still look around like, 'OK, come on, guys.' It's time for someone else in the room to raise their hand and say, 'You know what? Yeah, so big deal. I can still play basketball. I can still help the team win, and that's what's most important."

The reality of it is that there are more than likely mutiple gay athletes in each of the four major sports. Their reasoning for keeping with sexuality a secret is probably different for each of them but it all comes back to acceptance and tolerance. There are several female professional athletes that are openly gay without making headlines or causing national outcries. Britney Grimer, arguably the best female basketball player in the world has been openly gay for several years. Sure, she gets asked about it from time to time, but it is generally accepted and an after thought amongst her peers.

The NBA is much more in the spot light. There are always going to be a handful of bad apples talking behind people's back in the locker room or fans screaming and yelling homosexual slurs from the crowd. Now is as good a time as ever to turn that page and put all that negativity aside. The public out cry to tolerance and acceptance has come pouring in across the country and sports universe. Twitter is blowing up with support and well wishes...

Neil Patrick Harris wrote: “Bravo, @JasonCollins34! Thanks for stepping up. For standing tall. And at 7 feet, that’s saying a lot.”
Rosie O’Donnell wrote:  ”Thank you Jason Collins – for being the first one – knocking down doors !!!
Ellen De Generes wrote: “@NBA center @JasonCollins34 is the 1st out player on a US major league team. I’m overwhelmed by your bravery, Jason, & sending so much love.”
Andy Roddick wrote: “Props! @jasoncollins34
Kobe Bryant wrote :”Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others
Martina Navratilova wrote: “Well done Jason Collins- you are a brave man. And a big man at that:) 1981 was the year for me- 2013 is the year for you:)”
Chelsea Clinton wrote: “Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA. http://bit.ly/ZLei9F
Former US President Bill Clinton wrote: “I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend. http://wjcf.co/154piCi
Dwayne Johnson wrote: “Being real & authentic is very powerful. Well done Jason Collins for having the courage to take a monumental step forward. “.
Elizabeth Banks wrote: “Amazing story! Thanks brave @jasoncollins34: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
Diablo Coby wrote: “Congrats, Jason Collins, and thank you!” which was retweeted by singer Katy Perry.
 
It is time to finally turn the page and treat everyone as equal. Whether you are white, black, yellow, green blue, gay, straight, both, neither -- it should not matter. We are all humans. They are all professional athletes. To each his own.

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