Jason Collins, Washington Wizards center, has come out as the first openly gay male athlete playing in a major American team sport.
Collins recently made the following statement, “I’m a 34-year-old N.B.A. center. I’m black and I’m gay.”
The announcement was made on Sports Illustrated online version and it makes Collin the first player in the N.B.A. (or any other major sports league) to come out while still playing basketball.
According to what YouWager experts have learned, there have been several other gay athletes to come out in the open but have waited until retirement to divulge their sexuality publicly.
The 34 year-old player, who split this basketball season between the Boston Celtics and Washington , will become a free agent on July 1.
Collins would like to pursue another contract in the summer, which may serve as a test for how the different teams in the league feel about his statement.
In the magazine, Collins states the following: “I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.”
The native of California says his decision drew praise and admiration across the athletic and political realm on Twitter.
NBA Commissioner David Stern released a statement supporting Collins:
“Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career,” Stern said, “and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.”
It’s widely known that major sports leagues have been preparing for the moment when an active player comes out as gay.
For instance, the NFL, amid speculation that a handful of players were preparing to make the move en masse, has been working with gay advocacy groups to smooth the way for acceptance.
In addition, the NHL announced recently a comprehensive program for training and counseling on gay issues for its teams and players.