NBA player Jason Collins, former center for the Boston Celtics and now a free agent, has come out, making him the first openly gay professional male athlete in a major sport.
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm 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," Collins wrote Monday in a Sports Illustrated cover editorial announcing his sexuality.
"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," said Collins.
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Collins said he was inspired to come out by the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this month.
"The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?" he wrote.
Friends, family members, and fans reacted to Collins' news on Twitter.
Rumors have been swirling for months that a handful of professional athletes have been preparing to come out. Earlier this month, NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo, who has publicly advocated for gay players to admit to their sexuality, told the New York Times that several gay players exist in professional sports.
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"I'm not going to name numbers,"
Ayanbadejo said. "Several gay players in more sports than just football, and what we're trying to facilitate is to get them together and do what they want to do, do what is right for them."
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