D.C.—Washington Wizards center, Jason Collins, became the first openly gay active athlete among all four major American sports.
In an interview, in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated, Collins states, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA player. I’m black and I’m gay."
Sports Illustrated published the article on their website on Monday, April 29 after which various figures including President Clinton, Michelle Obama, Larry King, as well as many prominent basketball players took to Twitter to show their support for the veteran player.
“Proud to call Jason Collins a friend,” President Bill Clinton tweeted shortly after the news of Collins broke. The While House Twitter page also voiced support as First Lady, Michelle Obama tweeted “So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! –mo.” Later on in the day the White House Twitter page followed up by tweeting that “President Obama called Jason Collins this afternoon to express his support and said he was impressed by his courage. #Equality.”
Political leaders were not the only ones to show their support for Collins as public figures and athletes alike posted comments on to Twitter to offer their kind words. Kobe Bryant stated “Proud @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU." Bryant’s teammate, Steve Nash, also tweeted “the time has come. Maximum Support.”
Although Collins received a tremendous amount of praise for publicly acknowledging his homosexuality, not all people were as supportive as others. ESPN commentator, Chris Broussard, shared his view on the subject by first conveying his religious beliefs and then denouncing homosexuality as a sin.
While some speculate whether Collins will receive fair treatment going forward, the center's teammates as well as the Wizards organization were quick to show their backing by tweeting, “We are extremely proud of Jason & support his decision to live his life proudly and openly.” The Wizards' Twitter page also re-tweeted the posts made by
Clinton and other notable figures to rally even more support for Collins.
Collins graduated from Stanford and was the 18th overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft. He has been on six different teams in the past 12 years, and has participated in two NBA finals.
The veteran player split his time between the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards in the past season and will be a free agent next year.