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. 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.
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And with that, the first active NBA player to come out has revealed his sexuality in an interview with Sports Illustrated. In 2007, retired journeyman John Amaechi revealed he was gay and has since become an advocate for sexual equality in sports.
Collins, a free agent, appeared in 32 games this season for the Celtics before being traded at the deadline along with Leandro Barbosa for guard Jordan Crawford. He averaged one point and one rebound this season.
Collins linked three things to his decision to come out, including his old roommate's decision to march in a public event:
I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."
Collins also referenced the Boston Marathon bombings as making him realize that "things can change in an instant" and that the recent Supreme Court deliberations regarding same-sex marriage.
"Less then three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn't say a thing. I didn't want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing."
Collins' decision has been met with widespread reaction by the sports and political communities.