The Phillies didn’t play last night which is a good thing because there is something else I’d like to write about today.
As most of you surely have heard by now, Washington Wizards center Jason Collins just finishing his 12th season in the NBA, came out in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated becoming the first openly gay active male athlete in a major U.S. professional team sport.
The story was headline news on every network from ESPN to CNN; was the top trending story on Twitter all day with everyone from Kobe Bryant to Spike Lee tweeting their support. Even former President Bill Clinton issued a statement praising Collins who went to Stanford with his daughter Chelsea.
But the headline for me is not that an active athlete is coming out as gay but that this story is headline news at all. Now don’t get me wrong, I applaud Jason Collins and all those who “came out” in support of his decision to be open about his lifestyle but I will really applaud the day when Jason Collins’ sexuality isn’t a story at all.
And by the way, so would Jason:
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” Collins said in the Sports Illustrated article. “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.”
But nobody has which makes what Jason did both brave and newsworthy.
Newsworthy because it was indeed a first, despite my disbelief.
And brave, because there were some ugly reminders yesterday of the sad fact that we have not yet come as far as I might have hoped.
Reminders like this tweet from Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace:
“All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH (shakin’ my head) …”
The tweet was later removed. Too bad the sentiment cannot be deleted quite so easily.
And then there was ESPN’s NBA reporter Chris Broussard who used an appearance on yesterday’s episode of Outside the Lines to express his personal beliefs about homosexuality:
“If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, the bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that that’s a sin,” said Broussard. “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ.”
So these are the things that Jason Collins will now have to endure. He will spend this day speaking publicly about something that is very private.
But I look forward to another day.
I look forward to the day when intolerance is what is not accepted in our society.
I look forward to the day when Jason Collins doesn’t have to “raise his hand” and say he’s different.
I look forward to the day when Bill Clinton does not have to so eloquently support the right “of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities.”
I really look forward to that day.