If you haven't heard yet, Jason Collins is gay. Ok, let me take a step back ... in an article released by Sports Illustrated yesterday, NBA player Jason Collins revealed that he is homosexual. With this proclamation, Collins becomes the first male athlete in major American sports to openly express that he is anything other than heterosexual.
Before we continue, I'm going to take this rare opportunity (thanks to the integration of sports and social norms) to express my stance on the "issue" of sexual preference. I will be very clear on this ... I 100% support Jason Collins. I support his right to be gay, I support his decision to be open about his sexuality, and I support his decision to be the first male athlete in major American sports to state that being gay doesn't change who he is on the court. I think Collins is brave and courageous (certainly more than most), I think he is admirable, and I think he's just another athlete regardless of who he is sleeping with. I'll even say that if he wants to get married one day to another guy, nothing trumps love and I hope he and his partner find a lifetime of happiness together.
With that said ...
- There is going to be backlash. Anyway you like it, we still live in a homophobic America where the majority (outspoken or not) are still against the idea of homosexuality. Most of the celebrities who share this point of view are going to stay quiet about it, but not all of them. In just the first couple of hours after the story was released, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace tweeted his thoughts on how he can't understand a guy being gay when there are so many beautiful women in the world. And let's face it, he's not the only person thinking that way (maybe just the most public right now). Think about it ... if Justin Bieber came out of the closet tonight, half the people in the world would say "No Sh*t" and the other half would say "Who Cares?!" But, Jason Collins is a professional athlete ... and everyone "knows" that pro athletes are incredibly masculine guys who couldn't possibly be in to dudes. Unfortunately, if/when Collins is signed to an NBA team (he's currently a free agent) there are going to be PLENTY of fans at road games that want to remind him just how "wrong" his lifestyle is.
- There is going to be support. We've seen it already, and most of those who are going to be [peacefully] outspoken will get behind Collins' decision to come out and live the way he chooses. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Michael Strahan, even former president Bill Clinton ... all expressed their support yesterday for Collins in an overwhelmingly positive way. One can only hope that someone in the public eye coming out will help to advance gay rights, or at least the discussion that can one day lead to equality in this area. Homosexuality needed a spokesperson, and Jason Collins has proudly taken the podium.
- There are going to be more. Someone had to have the guts to be first, and now that it's out of the way, I suspect 2nd, 3rd, and 4th aren't too far away. But what will happen when the flood gates open? One can hope for support, love, and open debate. I'm not saying everyone is obligated to share my viewpoint on the topic. My concern is those who are radical about the "right" way to live making decisions that can severely harm others. With the abundance of gay pride events nationally in the United States, my biggest concern is for the safety of those involved. Let's keep our fingers crossed that we can rely on the protection of the men and women in uniform and the common sense of all to make sure things stay peaceful when those passionate about the topic choose to express themselves.
It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out moving forward. Sexuality is a very sensitive topic and one that almost everyone seems to have an opinion on. There might be some who read this post and don't want to have anything to do with me because of my stance ... and while I would certainly be disappointed, that is there right. But more important than anything, I believe Jason Collins just let one huge skeleton "out of the closet" ...