Nearly a year ago, NBA player Jason Collins did something no other male professional athlete for a major American sport had done before: he came out as an openly gay man.
Now, the 35-year-old center has signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets and made history again last night (Sunday, February 23, 2014) by playing in the first NBA game with an openly gay player on the court: the Brooklyn Nets vs. the L.A. Lakers.
(The Nets won, by the way.)
Just before the Nets-Laker game, Collins appeared in a #46 jersey for a press conference,; however, officially he will wear the #98 jersey — as he did with the Celtics and Wizards — to pay his respects to Matthew Shepard. Shepard was a University of Wyoming student who died during a well-known, heinous anti-gay crime in 1998.
Brian Ellner, a member of the Athlete Ally Board of Directors said in a statement:
Today, Jason Collins tore open the last remaining closet in America, and became the first openly gay player to be signed by a team in one of the big four sports. We are especially excited that Jason will be playing in Brooklyn, just like Jackie Robinson, and in a marriage equality state. This is a piece of history, an important point on the continuum toward justice and a moment to celebrate.
Just like last year, I’m proud of and thrilled for Collins, and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of trailblazing his bravery will bring.
How about YOU, readers? Regardless of “your team,” how do you feel about Collins’s courage? Has it helped you or anyone you know come out or feel more confident about sexual orientation? Do you have any personal stories to share? Hit us up in the comments below!