Word got out that the NBA free agent has revealed he’s gay—the details of which will be included in the upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated. While there have been a trickle of other pro athletes who’ve recently come out, Collins, 34, is the first active athlete among all four pro U.S. team sports who is openly homosexual.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation,” Collins told SI.
Upon hearing the news, civil rights groups, politicians, and fellow NBA players have come out in full support of Collins.
“Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others,” tweeted Lakers’ Kobe Bryant.
Lakers’ Steve Nash added: “The time has come. Maximum respect.”
Bill Clinton also praised the former Washington Wizards center, saying Collins’ coming out is an “important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community.”
An important moment, indeed. With the exception of the hip hop community, the pro sports world is arguably one of the last bastions of anti-gay bias. Collins might be changing all that.