On Monday, 34-year old NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay in a story published in Sports Illustrated, written by Jason himself. This marks the first time that a current pro-ball player in the ‘big four’ sports in the U.S. (basketball, baseball, football and hockey) has announced that he is gay. In his story he shares,
I feel blessed that I recognized my own attractions.
For years, sexuality educators have talked about how few gay role models exist in major sports, and how the lack of public figures in a variety of roles can be detrimental to a young person’s self-acceptance. Well, it’s time to change that story. And, as a few others have pointed out, people are freakin out about this now, but hopefully in the future a pro ball player coming out won’t be such a freak out. As Marty Klein asks in his blog post, “How many gay athletes will have to come out before it’s no longer newsworthy?”
However, people don’t seem to be freakin out so much about how WNBA player Brittney Griner came out just last week, and as the Atlantic points out in their article, What the WNBA can teach male athletes about coming out and being allies, there are plenty of ‘out’ players in other sports. This is a great opportunity to celebrate the people that have already been serving as strong role models. Sexuality educators, parents and teachers can point to all of these individuals as people to potentially look up to.
What I think is great about Jason Collins’ story is that he, and Brittney, are both communicating the message that you should be who you are, and not have to pretend to be someone that you’re not just to succeed in a particular career.