I am sure that many have heard the news that pro NBA player – Jason Collins has proclaimed that he is gay! Here are comments that people have made about this news:
“I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend.” – Bill Clinton (via twitter)
“When I see you I’m gonna hug your knees so hard.” – Ellen Degeneres
“This is what role models are made of. Here’s to a time when it’s no big deal.” – Ricky Gervais (via twitter)
“Thank you for not being afraid to speak up and speak out. Thank you for your courage.” - Representative John Lewis (via twitter)
“Hey @JasonCollins34 I’m still gayer than you!” - Rupaul (via twitter)
“So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back!” - Michelle Obama, FLOTUS (via twitter)
“Collins has led the way to freedom. Yes, freedom — because that closet is completely and utterly suffocating. It’s only when you come out that you can breathe properly. It’s only when you come out that you can be exactly who you are. Collins’ action will save lives. This is no exaggeration: Fully one-third of suicides among teenagers occur because of their sexuality. Collins will truly affect lives, too. Millions of kids will see that it is OK to be gay. No need for shame, no need for embarrassment, no need for hiding”
– Martina Navratilova
(Sports Illustrated column) – Martina came out in 1981 at the height of her pro-tennis career.
Not all of the news was positive though…..here are what non-supporters have said (again, hiding behind religion to justify their bigotry and ignorance):
“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly, like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the bible would characterize them as a Christian.” – ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard
“I will guarantee you if the ownership of whatever team is thinking about bringing him back or thinking about trading for him – and they go to the players on that team and they say ‘how do you feel about an out, active homosexual being in the same locker room sharing the same shower facilities with you’ they’d say ‘no way. I don’t want that. I don’t want some guy, a teammate eyeballin’ me in the shower and my wife does not want that.” - Bryan Fischer (AFA – America Family Association)
Here is Jason Collins first interview after ‘coming out’ on Good Morning America:
I focused on the positive comments because it is that feedback that matters. Those who make negative comments are hiding behind their fear of what they don’t want to understand. Some of my (gay) friends have made comments such as; “big deal, there are many courageous individuals that are not in the public eye that ‘come out’ every day and don’t even receive half as much attention”. Yes, many individuals come out everyday – which is also great. However, it is not everyday where a pro-athlete decides to risk their future career by announcing to the world they are homosexual. Jason Collins coming out IS a big deal. As Martina Navratilova indicated in her Sports Illustrated column (see comments above). In addition to this giving our LGBT youth the courage and strength to come out and live their true authentic lives – it may also inspire other pro-athletes to stop denying their right to live their true authentic selves.
Looking back – I wonder how much earlier I would have come out had some of my role-models made such an important and public statement. Never-the-less, Jason Collins news is wonderful, inspiring and important for reasons that heterosexuals may not understand. One such reason is that gay youth, men and women may not feel a disconnect and alone when there is such a high-profile role model in the public eye and that there are others that are just like them.
Jason Collins did not come out to seek attention – he come out to truly live his authentic life and in doing so, has probably saved the lives of so many who are struggling with their own sexuality.
Together, we can make the world a more positive one!