Today, Jason Collins came out to the world. Not only that, he did so exclusively and in the first person to Sports Illustrated. Collins is currently an NBA Free Agent and has been a center in the league for 12 years, but is the first active player in major American professional sports to be openly gay.
"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."
It is great that Collins felt comfortable enough to not only do this, but do this in the first person. Hopefully he can continue his NBA career with the same acceptance he'd normally have.
Kudos to SI for giving him a cover and the freedom to write the story himself. This is the best possible way for this to happen – on Collins' terms. In such an intrusive media world, it's surprising for a story this important to be held for a cover story. In fact, it may be the most culturally significant Sports Illustrated story in years. The fact that Collins took ownership of this with such grace and a powerfully written piece makes the impact that much greater.
Hopefully this will pave the way for more athletes to come out.