The first gay athlete

As an almost-daily blogger who relies on current events to provide the majority of his material, there’s always that fear that one day the news is going to go stale, and that I’ll lack a topic to talk about.

Indeed, when I woke up this morning, I thought I may have been forced to discuss things like Reese Witherspoon, as well as the fact that not only is Hanson still a band, but that they actually have a new single out.

But if there is anything I’ve learned in my 3+ years of blogging, it’s that this entertaining world we live in will always deliver. And today, it delivered in historic fashion.

This morning, the news broke that NBA Player Jason Collins came out as the first openly gay male athlete still active in a major American team sport.

The news resonated not only across the sporting news world, but throughout all media and news outlets. Collins’s announcement was met largely with support, including congratulatory Tweets from current NBA superstars like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, and even former President Bill Clinton voiced his approval.

And of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you had ignorant remarks from sports analysts, like this gem from ESPN’s Chris Broussard, who said on live television that “Being gay is an open rebellion to God.”

Of course, I know all that matters to everybody else is what my reaction to this was. And to me, I don’t know — call me liberal — but I’ve become so accustomed and so acclimated with the idea that no human being is better than one other due to any reasons such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender, that I just don’t think this news is as revolutionary as people are making it out to be.

Jason Collins deserves to be applauded. It unquestionably took a ton of courage to make such an announcement, knowing the ignorance and bigotry he’d face as a result. In addition to that, he is a 34-year-old free agent with no guarantees whatsoever in getting a chance to resume his career. He’s a role player, and the furthest thing from a star player. He made this announcement not knowing what impact it would have on his career during a pivotal time, and that — to me — tells me that he’s making this announcement to be a leader, with no other ulterior motives.

But again, honestly, I feel like this is something that happened already. When media outlets reported that he was the first to come out as an active player, I was actually surprised. With gay marriage being bilaterally legalized in states across the U.S., I feel like our country has already taken that next step towards embracing the gay and lesbian community.

Just look at the worldwide support that came about a few weeks ago when the Supreme Court was determining whether same-sex marriages deserve the same federal benefits as “traditional marriages.” Some of my friends still have an equal sign as their Facebook profile photo.

So I guess it just seemed like a long-time coming that an athlete would finally step up to the plate and come out.

And it’s just painfully obvious how hard the media is trying to make this seem like it’s a landmark moment in sports. And I’m not trying to downplay it — it is indeed a historic step, no doubt. But our world has changed. We accept people now. This isn’t Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier.

Just look at the sentence that I stole directly from the New York Times article. I’ll repost it: “Jason Collins, a 12-year N.B.A. veteran, has come out as the first openly gay male athlete still active in a major American team sport.”

Look at all of the distinctions they used to make it a headline.

  1. Openly gay
  2. Male athlete
  3. Still active
  4. Major sport
  5. American sport
  6. Team sport

That is six different things. Of course, there are dozens of athletes who are gay, but just don’t feel comfortable making it public. We Kobe Tweetalready know that some female athletes have come out, including Baylor star Brittney Griner, who will be a professional sports player in a few months if she gets drafted into the WNBA (If that league is still around, that is. I don’t mean any offense by that — I honestly don’t know.)

And I’m sure there’s a golfer or something who is openly gay, but doesn’t qualify because it’s not a team sport. And because golfers do enough ball-washing on the course as it is.

But the point I’m trying to make here is — the real news should be the fact that this isn’t newsworthy. Or at least top-headline newsworthy. When I heard that Jason Collins was gay, I thought, “Wow. Cool. Good for him!” and then I moved on with my day. People are gay. Lots of them are. The thought never even occurs to me whether I have to even think of them differently as anybody else. My brain just doesn’t function that way.

Again, Jason Collins does deserve to be acclaimed and hailed as a pioneer. Hopefully his bravery will pave the way for other gay athletes to reveal themselves.

In fact, you know what? I’m inspired. Jason Collins has motivated me to make my own confession that I have been holding in for quite some time now. Whew, I’m really nervous. I can’t believe I’m doing this.

But here we go.

Up until I was about 15, I still took the occasional bath.


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