The times, they really are a-changin’

This is big.  This is big, even though it sorta feels right now like this isn’t causing a big stir except in all the places that are writing stories about it because it’s the first: a player in one of the major American team sports has come out publicly as homosexual. Veteran basketball player Jason Collins writes a first-person essay in the Jason Collinsupcoming issue of Sports Illustrated; you can read it here

Among my initial reactions: 

  • it’s none of my business, or it shouldn’t be…and Collins agrees 
  • I don’t care that he’s gay…and Collins hopes we all think that
  • this couldn’t possibly have happened before now, and now I don’t think it will much matter…and it shouldn’t
    Americans’ attitudes about sexuality are changing so fast you can almost hear the thought balloons popping up over the heads of one person after another as they realize they don’t care about someone else’s private life (with the exceptions of any Kardashian, of course), that they want to be the kind of person who is tolerant of differences among people and who wants to treat others fairly.

Collins is a veteran of six teams over 12 seasons in the NBA, so he’s not a kid and he’s not a superstar.  He’s also a free agent, and whether he now gets signed by another team—and which team—will be interesting things to watch for.  And I like that he made this announcement after his team’s season was over, so it can’t distract his teammates from the job they have to do.  Loyalty to the team, and putting the team ahead of his personal wants, is an attribute that should win him a lot of respect around the league.

I applaud Collins for his bravery: despite the changing attitudes about homosexuality all across this country, making this announcement and putting himself at risk for discrimination took guts.  But the more announcements like this there are, the less risk there will be.  He says openness is a good place to start in disarming prejudice; that’s clearly true.  As more people have come out of the closet, from your everyday schmoes to tee-wee stars, more of the rest of us have found out that someone we know and like and respect is gay.  The American military trashed it’s policy that forced homosexuals in the services to lie about who they are, and we’ve seen that our armed forces have not disintegrated into a morass of low morale.  More people are translating their feelings into action at the voting booth, registering their support for the American ideals of fairness and tolerance.

Collins says, “The most you can do is stand up for what you believe in. I’m much happier since coming out to my friends and family. Being genuine and honest makes me happy.”  Stand up for what you believe in: solid advice.

Yep, this is big news, big big big…I mean, what else could possibly have been important enough to be the lead sports story on the day that Tim Tebow was released by the Jets?  This is amazing stuff indeed!

(photo Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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