It's finally happened.
As reported in multiple places earlier this week, Jason Collins became the first active player in a major North American team sport to announce he's gay. Big cheers to Jason Collins.
It's a brave move for Collins, and a sign of how far we've come in terms of acceptance in my lifetime. This would have been unthinkable when I was a kid. It's been great to see the level of acceptance and support expressed by his peers in the NBA community, the sports world in general, and the world as a whole.
Collins has had a rough time of it. He's spent most of his life keeping a secret from everyone, even his twin brother. That sort of life takes a toll on you. As he says, "It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie." Having admitted the truth about himself, Collins says he feels whole.
Sadly, his life is about to get a whole lot tougher. Despite the overwhelming support of players like Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace, and the positivity from former players like Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal, next year is going to be very rough for Collins. If he plays next year (and as a 34-year-old without a contract, it's no guarantee, though he seems to be a well-respected player), we'll see what kind of reaction he gets from fans, teammates, and opponents. I can already imagine some not-very-nice jokes about backing into the low post (geeze, did I really just go there? Yes. Yes, I did), for example. It's not always going to be pretty, but this move is good for Collins, good for sports, and good for the world in general. It's about time. And on that note, I'll leave you for the weekend once again with this spot (which I think I've used before), from the You Can Play Project, a group that's encouraging tolerance, acceptance, and equal opportunities for LBGT athletes.