Jason Collins made my heart happy!
In the May issue of Sports Illustrated, a smiling, successful, happy Black man announced that we was gay to the world. Jason Collins is the first openly gay active player on a major American sports team and it makes my little heart brim over with happiness. In interviews shortly after his self-authored story was released Collins discussed his experience as a gay man announcing to the world that he is comfortable in his own skin. Watching him talk about it and reading his words, I can almost feel a sense of relief and release that this person can stop telling himself that the sky is red.
What I find to be so cool about all of this is that it indicates to me that we’re in a safer time for people who identify as LGBTQ. Not very long ago, a disclosure like this one would end a person’s career, rather than invite supportive phone calls from the President of the United States. Tides are changing and perspectives are shifting. Collins is free to focus on a sport he loves and love the person(s) he wants to. This is a taste of violence-free world I crave.
As someone who spent her whole life playing basketball, I have a deep appreciation for the way that athletics can bring balance, discipline, and connection to one’s life. It has always made me sad that dominant sports culture often belittles, degrades, or marginalizes traditionally oppressed groups. I recall being so proud when pro athletes came out in support of marriage equality not too long ago. I think it’s little steps like this that make a big difference. It is no coincidence that building public support for the rights of all people created a climate where it is safer and welcomed to come out to the world.