The linked story is about Jason Collins, who has now become the first male professional athlete to come out as gay. The story is important given the hype surrounding male professional athletes. It follows the recent news of WNBA athlete, Brittney Griner, as well as news that there are four pro football players in talks to all come out at the same time.
NBA center Jason Collins has become the first male U.S. athlete in a major professional sport to come out as gay.The 34-year-old, a free agent who has played with the Washington Wizards and the Boston Celtics this past season,
GLAAD called Collins a new hero, and he truly is. Nothing should be taken away from that. Every person who comes out makes it easier for others to do so, and when that person is so well known and visible, it helps youth in big ways. Male professional sports is perhaps the only arena of culture where gays are not as well as accepted as anyone else. It is still the domain of an old school understanding of masculinity where brute force is King.
But one comment by Collins causes me some pause:
I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”
Pause, because I think so many people are like this, hoping someone else will be the one to break the ground and start the conversation. It is a sad that that the very act of being visible as yourself, is a cultural if not a political act in and of itself. How much simpler would it all be if we could just be who we are without the statement of it being such a big deal.
But it is.
If you need more inspiration, read the Sports Illustrated editorial. I find it very moving.
If you are one of those people waiting, and living a lie, don’t beat up on yourself and just get to the task at hand which is to live with greater wholeness through honesty. It is so common to be afraid that everything will fall apart if you come out, and for some everything is not as positive as Collins has experienced. But the world doesn’t fall apart.
“I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew,” he writes. “And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.”
In families; neighborhoods; schools; businesses; organizations; churches; clubs; towns; and in any way in which we organize people- there is someone, not wanting to be the first to speak up, and today, I wonder- will you follow Collins lead and stop waiting for it to be someone else, and have it be you?