In this week's issue of Sports Illustrated, veteran NBA center Jason Collins wrote that he is gay. "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," the 12-year NBA veteran wrote.
Collins, who played for the Washington Wizards and previously for the Boston Celtics this season, his 12th in the NBA, explained the timing of his decision to publicly come out. "I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I'm a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want."
President Obama called Jason Collins today to express his support and told him he was impressed by his courage. In an ABC News interview May of 2012, the president became the first sitting president to back marriage equality. "For me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that--I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," Obama said.
According to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 53% of Americans support same-sex marriage and 42% oppose. In his article, Jason Collins wrote, "I'm glad I'm coming out in 2013 rather than 2003. The climate has shifted; public opinion has shifted. And yet we still have so much farther to go."
Indeed, there was some negative reaction to his announcement. ESPN commentator Chris Broussard said if Collins is gay, then he isn't a real Christian.
But his announcement appeared to be generally well-received, with an outpouring of support from former teammates, professional athletes, friends and politicians. Here is the encouragement and support Collins received on Twitter throughout Monday.
Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup #BYOU— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 29, 2013
I am so proud of my bro @jasoncollins34 for being real. #FTheHaters bit.ly/12J9el5— Baron Davis (@Baron_Davis) April 29, 2013
sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/…very proud of you @jasoncollins34— jarron collins (@jarronctwin) April 29, 2013
Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA. bit.ly/ZLei9F— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) April 29, 2013
I'm proud to call Jason Collins a friend. wjcf.co/154piCi— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) April 29, 2013
So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! -mo— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) April 29, 2013
President Obama called Jason Collins this afternoon to express his support and said he was impressed by his courage. #Equality— The White House (@whitehouse) April 29, 2013
The time has come. Maximum respect. RT @baron_davis: I am so proud of my bro @jasoncollins34 for being real. ... tmi.me/TGSBh— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) April 29, 2013
Doc Rivers: "I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’s a pro’s pro." Read Doc's full statement: on.nba.com/15UPgaR— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 29, 2013
The baseball world voices its support for @jasoncollins34: atmlb.com/ZLYgwk— MLB (@MLB) April 29, 2013
Big kudos to @jasoncollins34. Living proof that your sexuality has nothing to do with your athletic ability. sportsillustrated.cnn.com/magazine/news/… #salute— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) April 29, 2013
Bravo, @jasoncollins34! Thanks for stepping up. For standing tall. And at 7 feet, that's saying a lot.— Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH) April 29, 2013
Thank you Jason Collins - for being the first one - knocking down doors !!! — Rosie O'Donnell (@Rosie) April 29, 2013
.@nba center @jasoncollins34 is the 1st out player on a US major league team. I'm overwhelmed by your bravery, Jason, & sending so much love— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) April 29, 2013
I Truly Believe There Are Players InNBA Who Already Knew About Jason Collins (Besides His Twin Brother) And Others Who Haven't Come Out. — Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) April 29, 2013
.@jasoncollins34 Thank you for raising your hand. Your courage proves why every American deserves our respect, no matter who they love. — Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) April 29, 2013
Enormous courage of #JasonCollins is inspiring, especially to #LGBT youth. He may be the 1st, but hopefully not the last. — Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) April 29, 2013
Proud of NBA player @jasoncollins34 for his courage to come out as the first openly gay professional male athlete: goo.gl/HwsfU/ — Christine C. Quinn (@ChrisCQuinn) April 29, 2013
Jason can feel good in knowing that the NBA will support him. — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
Really hope people will RESPECT Jason Collins for his decision to come out. Just glad he can now relax and not be afraid to be who he is. — tony Parker (@tonyparker) April 29, 2013
Happy for @jasoncollins34 in his decision. A great teammate and friend. Thanks for helping me through my rookie season!! #classact #courage — Kevin Love (@kevinlove) April 29, 2013
Played NBA +college w/ @jasoncollins34 -tremendous human being and PHENOMENAL teammate, leader, friend.Look forward 2his continued success! — Mark Madsen (@madsen_mark) April 29, 2013
Wow this is amazing all smiles.. So so happy Jason Collins came out & announce he was openly GAY ALL SUPPORT OVER HERE #ATHLETEALLY #LGBT — Kenneth Faried (@KennethFaried35) April 29, 2013
Really hope people will RESPECT Jason Collins for his decision to come out. Just glad he can now relax and not be afraid to be who he is. — Bruce Bowen (@Bowen12) April 29, 2013
Jason's sexuality doesn't change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate. @jasoncollins34 — Jason Kidd (@RealJasonKidd) April 29, 2013
Stand with @jasoncollins34, the first openly gay NBA player. Sign this statement of support: bit.ly/1552d2stwitter.com/AthleteAlly/st… — Martina Navratilova (@Martina) April 29, 2013
So proud of @jasoncollins34 for having the courage to stand up and out for who he is. I support, respect and salute you!! — Michael Strahan (@michaelstrahan) April 29, 2013
The Boston Red Sox invited Collins to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park.
We salute you, @jasoncollins34 for your courage and leadership. Any time you want to throw out a first pitch at Fenway Park, let us know. — Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) April 29, 2013
Coach Drew said Jason Collins reached out to him by phone today. "I left him a message back letting him know how proud I was of him."— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) April 29, 2013
Proud of @jasoncollins34 for expressing his feelings! Great teammate, mentor and better person !! #liveyourlife !— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) April 29, 2013
#Wizards Statement "We are extremely proud of Jason & support his decision to live his life proudly and openly." More nba.com/wizards/wizard…— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 29, 2013
Overwhelmed by the positive support he received throughout the day, Collins expressed his thanks on Twitter.
All the support I have received today is truly inspirational. I knew that I was choosing the road less traveled but I'm not walking it alone— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins34) April 29, 2013
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me thru email, texts, calls, tweets, letters, and every other form of communication. #support— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins34) April 29, 2013