Jason Collins, a professional basketball player who played for the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards last season, became the first active openly gay male athlete in a major professional team sport when he announced in a Sports Illustrated article on Monday that he was gay.
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” Collins wrote.
The center said he “didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” but was now “happy to start the conversation.”
Collins, who starred with his twin brother Jarron at Harvard-Westlake in high school and Stanford in college before going to the NBA, had a stellar basketball career at Stanford and has played in the NBA since 2001.
He also said “loyalty to my team is the real reason I didn’t come out sooner” and said he has “never sought the spotlight.” Collins also said he has “taken plenty of showers in 12 seasons” and his “behavior wasn’t an issue before, and it won’t be one now.” He also noted he had dated women and was even engaged to a woman, but said it was not a “choice” to be gay.
Collins said he made his decision to come out after “U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage” less than three miles from his D.C. apartment and his college roommate, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), who is straight, told him about having marched in a gay rights parade. Collins said he called and told Kennedy a few weeks ago that he was gay after notifying his family.
Collins started the season in Boston, was traded to Washington, and is currently a free agent.