NBA star Jason Collins Comes Out of The Closet

Jason Collins


Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards Cen­ter, Jason Collins opens up in let­ter for new Sports Illus­trated issue, avail­able May 6.

Read Collins’ Open Let­ter Below:

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.

 My jour­ney of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my home­town of Los Ange­les and has taken me through two state high school cham­pi­onships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine play­offs in 12 NBA seasons.

 I’ve played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a par­lor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you’re in the league, and I haven’t been your team­mate, I surely have been one of your team­mates’ team­mates. Or one of your team­mates’ team­mates’ teammates.

 Now I’m a free agent, lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively. I’ve reached that envi­able state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to con­tinue to play bas­ket­ball. I still love the game, and I still have some­thing to offer. My coaches and team­mates rec­og­nize that. At the same time, I want to be gen­uine and authen­tic and truthful.

 Why am I com­ing out now? Well, I started think­ing about this in 2011 dur­ing theNBA player lock­out. I’m a crea­ture of rou­tine. When the reg­u­lar sea­son ends I imme­di­ately ded­i­cate myself to get­ting game ready for the opener of the next cam­paign in the fall. But the lock­out wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to con­front who I really am and what I really want. With the sea­son delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the dis­trac­tion that bas­ket­ball had always provided.

The first rel­a­tive I came out to was my aunt Teri, a supe­rior court judge in San Fran­cisco. Her reac­tion sur­prised me. “I’ve known you were gay for years,” she said. From that moment on I was com­fort­able in my own skin. In her pres­ence I ignored my cen­sor but­ton for the first time. She gave me sup­port. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imag­ine you’re in the oven, bak­ing. Some of us know and accept our sex­u­al­ity right away and some need more time to cook. I should know — I baked for 33 years.

 When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a cer­tain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.


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