Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

I’m a 34-year-old athlete. I’m black, and I’m gay.

by Jeffrey Perez

It’s astonishing that in this day and age, as a society, it’s huge news that an athlete has
unveiled his homosexuality openly to the world. A veteran of the NBA for 12 years, who’s
played for teams like the historic Boston Celtics the Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks,
Jason Collins says he has gotten incredible support, as he became the first active openly gay
player in any of the major four sports according to an interview that was aired by ABC’s “Good
Morning America”. The interview was completed one day after Jason Collins disclosed his
sexuality in a first person interview that was posted by Sports Illustrated.

Jason Collins states that when he was younger he dated women and even got engaged,
because he felt he had to live a certain way. The insurmountable pressure that Collins had to feel
had to derive from the media’s eternal influential “guidelines” that unfairly set a standard on
society. Collins states, “I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.”

He then follows by stating “I hope that every player makes a decision that leads to their
own happiness, whatever happiness that is in life, I know that I right now, am the happiest that
I’ve ever been in my life.” After experiencing what Collins said was a “12 Step Program”, he
finally realized he needed to go public after long time friend and former roommate at Stanford
Joe Kennedy, told him he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. Feeling sadness,
anger and envy, Collin’s decided to finally come out.

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According to the article by Sports Illustrated, Collins states the tragedy that the people of
Boston endured was what finally gave him the courage to come out. “The recent Boston
Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my
coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I
told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join
him in 2013. We’ll be marching on June 8” said Collins.

Even twin brother Jarron Collins was shocked when he heard the news. In the interview
Jason states “I didn’t come out to my brother until last summer. He was downright astounded. He
never suspected. So much for twin telepathy. But by dinner that night, he was full of brotherly
love. For the first time in our lives, he wanted to step in and protect me.”

Jarron Collins said regarding the support his has received, “He’s definitely happier. It
took a lot of energy for him to not live his life in the way that he wanted to, out in the open and
free. Each day gets better, but you can just see this weight lifted from him. He can just say, ‘I’m
gay. This is me. I’m free. It’s been a long time coming for him.”

Quickly following the news, many NBA players such as Los Angeles Lakers’ shooting
guard Kobe Bryant and current MVP and NBA champion Lebron James expressed their
incredible support on various social media networks. Overall, there was a positive reaction

throughout the NBA setting the right tone on what has historically been a sensitive subject. Even
a person who has encountered immense adversity himself throughout his life had a few choice
words. “It’s incredible. Just try to live an honest, genuine life, and the next thing you know you
have the president calling you,” Collins said. “He was incredibly supportive and he was proud of
me, said this not only affected my life but others going forward.”

So what does this news signify going forward? Jason Collins had the confidence and
courage to finally speak out, in order to feel comfortable in his own skin and demonstrate to the
world that it is ok to be a gay athlete.

It is important that people are educated on this subject, because the guy on your team
who’s getting the recognition and busts his behind every day, can very well be dealing with the
same dilemma. It is imperative to learn how to differentiate a gay athlete in terms of his
professional and personal life. Just because an athlete is “different”, shouldn’t be a reason to
exclude them as a teammate.

If there are any concerns among his teammates, Jarron is confident his brother will
handle it in a mature manner. Jarron states “It’ll be fine. My brother is very mature. If people
have issues with it, my brother can talk to them about it. He’s very mature. If you have an issue,
just talk to him. It’s an old adage: He’s a man, you’re a man, just have a conversation.”

Jason Collins has paved the way for future athletes to come out and have pride in who
they are. After this initial “shock”, the same way we as a society were able to accept different
groups in sports, we can willingly include and embrace the gay community as well. Obviously,
every individual might not agree with the concept of homosexuality, but lack of respect and
understanding should never falter in this matter.

Although Jason Collins hasn’t contributed much on the court during his tenure as a
player, 25 years from now we may very well be talking about a basketball player who stamped
his footprint outside of the court. As for myself, I commend Collins for his honesty. A man who
wasn’t afraid to speak out. One day he might just become the Jackie Robinson of gay athletes.

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