"I'm a 34-Year-Old NBA Center. I'm Black. And I'm Gay." Featured

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When US basketball player Jason Collins came out as gay last week, he was greeted with a chorus of journalists, politicians and sports fans proclaiming his courage in making history. Collins became the first active male athlete in any major American professional sports team to wriggle free from the shackles of the straighter-than-thou locker room. The 34-year-old NBA center was inundated with messages of support from the public, as well as sportswear brand Nike, NBA star Kobe Bryant and even president Barack Obama, who declared he ‘couldn’t be prouder’ of Collins. It has been heartening to see tolerance, understanding and acceptance outweigh bigotry even in the hyper-hetero sphere of US major sports. As Lakers forward Metta World Peace told reporters “You should be free to act and do as you want to do, as long as it’s not violent. I came here in a Cookie Monster shirt because I wanted to.” Yes, er, well said Metta.


Just as homophobia in the United States looked for a second as if it was waning, a new peculiar form has wheedled its way into society. Instead of contesting the outpour of praise for Collins’ bravery with actively hateful aggression, certain people have demonstrated an equally as aggressive prideful disinterest. These people want us to know how much they really do not care.

Asante Samuel who plays for Atlanta Falcons voiced his lack of interest in any athlete’s sexuality, “Straight people … are not announcing they’re straight, so why everybody have to announce their sexuality or whatever? You don’t have to show it and flaunt it like that. You know what I’m saying? Let’s keep it about the touchdowns, the baskets made.” Yes, I know what you’re saying Asante, and to a certain extent I agree. Sports players should be judged on their ability to play sport and certainly not by their sexual orientation, it shouldn’t matter, but for so many it does, and until Collins’ announcement, the world of sport remained trapped in the claws of bigotry. This is why the “I don’t care” attitude is dangerous; it reinforces the stigma attached to gay athletes, whereby they are forced to live in fear of being ostracized by their teammates and ultimately by the sport they care for so much.

Jason Collins coming out as gay will hopefully inspire other athletes to follow suit, until eventually, it wont be a big deal at all. In an accepting, enlightened society where gay athletes are commonplace, a player’s sexual orientation wouldn’t warrant any attention at all. For the time being, it will, but by raising his hand and beginning the conversation, Collins has taken a courageous and pivotal leap for the world of sport.


Deborah Todd

Currently muddling my way through student life.

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