NBA center Jason Collins comes out as gay

Jason Collins announces he's gay on the cover of Sport's Illustrated

Jason Collins has just become the first active male member of a major professional US sports team to come out as gay. The NBA center and current free agent announced the news earlier today, and already celebrity responses have been pouring in. In the new issue of Sports Illustrated, Jason opens up about why he came out and what he sees for his future.

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” Jason reveals in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated. “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.”

Rumors surfaced earlier this year that there were three major NFL players who were going to be announcing that they were gay, but no one has come forward.

“Now I’m a free agent, literally and figuratively,” Jason continues. “I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.”

Jason’s twin brother, Jarron Collins, shares his surprise — and his support — in the magazine as well.  “I won’t lie. I had no idea,” Jarron tells the magazine of the moment Jason came out to him last summer. “We talked, he answered my questions, I hugged him and I digested what he had told me. At the end of the day, this is what matters: He’s my brother, he’s a great guy, and I want him to be happy. I’ll love him and I’ll support him and, if necessary, I’ll protect him.”

He adds, “Today, Jason has taken a huge weight off his shoulders. And I’ve never been more proud of him.”

Below are a couple celebrity reactions on Twitter:

Chelsea Clinton: “Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA.”

Russell Simmons: “Proud of Washington Wizards’ player Jason Collins  (@JasonCollins34) for coming out. we will stand with you as you continue on your journey.”

Baron Davis: “I am so proud of my bro @JasonCollins34 for being real. #FTheHaters.”

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