Jason Collins starts his essay “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” Everyone should know why.
I was Tim Hardaway, the NBA star that once said “I hate gay people”. Ye who casts the first stone. It is ironic giving that I was a 3M, a minority three times over in America (Black, Caribbean, & Latino). But the magic of being 3M is that each of those “M”s inasmuch as they are privy to much prejudice, have exercised it as well with impunity against our gay brothers and sisters. You see the Black, Caribbean, and Latino cultures are all generally very homophobic. Suffice it to say that when forced by a business partner to address my homophobia intellectually on a long trip to China, I became one of the biggest gay cause supporters upon disembarking that Boeing 747. I took on Roland Martin, an avid sports lover & CNN reporter for his homophobic rants on twitter during the 2012 Super Bowl.
Intellectual acknowledgement of equality and the right to be is much easier than the emotional acknowledgement. It takes an effort we owe to this country’s essence. That is why to date no active NBA star, or Football star, or many others will easily just come out of the closet. That is why to date the most segregated hour in America is still during the church. Ironically one of the largest dispensers of homophobic hate as well is the church. It takes the brave to leave that comfort zone. It takes the brave to be unconcerned with friend or foe watching one cohort with the Gay, the Black, the White, the Latino, the Asian, the other.
The above prose illustrates why there is likely no upside for anyone, let alone any athlete or star to come out of the closet. For this, NBA center Jason Collins is a trailblazer for several reasons. There is still much left in his career and he is a free agent. Coming out in his essay titled “The Gay Athlete” in the May 6, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated was an act of bravery. It is a well written piece.
Jason Collins acknowledged that he knew he was different when his twin brother was interested in girls while he was not. He also said he dated girls and was even engaged in order to live that life he was expected to live. He said one of the reasons he came out is that he wanted to do it on his terms as opposed to some exposé from TMZ.
What must have been an internal turmoil is that he states he was unable to get close with any of his teammates because of having to live a double life. He said he was not sure if he was such a physical player to prove that “gay doesn’t make you soft”.
His essay seems to have a warning for any player who may want to attempt any sort of homophobic bullying. He said:
I’ll sit down with any player who’s uneasy about my coming out. Being gay is not a choice. This is the tough road and at times the lonely road. Former players like Tim Hardaway, who said “I hate gay people” (and then became a supporter of gay rights), fuel homophobia. Tim is an adult. He’s entitled to his opinion. God bless America. Still, if I’m up against an intolerant player, I’ll set a pretty hard pick on him. And then move on.
It is 2013. That we are still talking about someone coming out of the closet speaks poorly of our social progress as a society thus far. Civil Rights legislation has been passed for decades now. It is time that our intellect and emotions catch up with what and how society has always been but just closeted.