Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Jason Collins

It’s finally happened.
As reported in multiple places earlier this week, Jason Collins became the first active player in a major North American team sport to announce he’s gay. Big cheers to Jason Collins.
It’s a brave move for Collins, and a sign of how far we’ve come in terms of acceptance in my lifetime. This would have been unthinkable when I was a kid. It’s been great to see the level of acceptance and support expressed by his peers in the NBA community, the sports world in general, and the world as a whole.
Collins has had a rough time of it. He’s spent most of his life keeping a secret from everyone, even his twin brother. That sort of life takes a toll on you. As he says, “It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie.” Having admitted the truth about himself, Collins says he feels whole.
Sadly, his life is about to get a whole lot tougher. Despite the overwhelming support of players like Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace, and the positivity from former players like Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, next year is going to be very rough for Collins. If he plays next year (and as a 34-year-old without a contract, it’s no guarantee, though he seems to be a well-respected player), we’ll see what kind of reaction he gets from fans, teammates, and opponents. I can already imagine some not-very-nice jokes about backing into the low post (geeze, did I really just go there? Yes. Yes, I did), for example. It’s not always going to be pretty, but this move is good for Collins, good for sports, and good for the world in general. It’s about time. And on that note, I’ll leave you for the weekend once again with this spot (which I think I’ve used before), from the You Can Play Project, a group that’s encouraging tolerance, acceptance, and equal opportunities for LBGT athletes.

12 Responses

  1. I was pleased to see the announcement too. It's so ridiculous and sad that we're not far enough along as humans that people feel they have to live a lie in order to live in peace and be free from ridicule. I hope this brings about more honesty and people can treat each other as people.

  2. It was a brave thing to do. I'm curious if more gay pro athletes will feel the need to come out now too. I'm thinking there are a lot of people still living with the lie.

  3. People should not have to hide who they are. They shouldn't be made to feel afraid for being different. Good on Collins for coming out. I wish Australia would get a move on and legalize marriage equality; New Zealand is one step ahead of us in that respect as of a couple of weeks ago. The next issue of Deakin Writer's newsletter is the LGBT edition and I've submitted something to give my support.

    Best wishes for Collins next year. Thanks for sharing, JeffO.

  4. I remember reading an estimate that slightly over 3% of the population identifies itself as LBGT. If that's consistent in the world of professional sports, we're looking at double digits in all of the major professional sports. I'm thinking Collins' move, the outspoken support of guys like Brendon Ayanbadejo, and initiatives like You Can Play will encourage more players to come out.

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