The times really are changin’

If Monday’s lately haven’t been striking enough, another stunning shock was dealt this week-this time in the form of a beautiful proclamation. Senior NBA center Jason Collins announced May 6 via an exquisitely self-written piece in Sports Illustrated that he is in fact gay.

            “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” said Collins in the first line of his piece.

            “I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing ina major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. 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.”

            His announcement was met with support from friend and former classmate Chelsea Clinton as well as Kobe Bryant and even the Boston Red Sox.         

            “Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage#support#mambaarmystandup#BYOU,” said Bryant in a tweet.

            “We salute you, @jasoncollins34 for your courage and leadership. Any time you want to throw out a first pitch at Fenway Park, let us know,” the Boston Red Sox said in a statement.

            Although some people might note that there have been other openly gay athletes, such as John Amaechi of the NBA, Billy Bean and Glenn Burke in Major League Baseball, and Kwame Harris of the NFL, what seems to set Collins apart is that he has come out during his active career.

            Support has also shown through from places seemingly unexpected. Collins’ commendable decision to come out has garnered support from the White House and even ESPN’s Josh Krulewitz.

            “ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement,” Krulewitz said.

            Unfortunately, Krulewitz’s comment was prompted by some ill-timed comments from one his own.

             ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who reports on the NBA for the station, blatantly alluded to some of the challenges still facing this country with his remarks on Collins’ message.

            “I don’t agree with homosexuality,” Broussard said on his on-air show “Outside the Lines” on Monday.

             “I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is.”    

            Despite former players coming out after they’ve secured their savings and a career, Collins has displayed notable courage and honesty as well as integrity in being true to himself.

For most part, as we’ve seen, there has been acceptance and joy in this step being taken toward social consciousness and support. However, we still seem to see some less than willing to accept that being gay doesn’t seem to be a choice, but being strong enough to honor your identity is.

            Despite this prejudicial remark by Broussard-mostly based on the same faith that Collins says he follows too-we see another step in the changing face of America toward approval, diversity and unity. Another opportunity to have the conversations, give the support and reclaim the multiplicity that defines who we are as a whole.

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