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  • Writer's pictureJoey Amato

Jason Collins: Coming Out, Making History is Proudest Moment of NBA Career


Jason Collins, the first male player in any major American team sport to come out as gay, has said in a newly published interview that “coming out publicly and being able to play and make history” is his proudest accomplishment from his National Basketball Association (NBA) career.Collins came out in 2013, after completing that NBA season as a member of the Washington Wizards, and he has since become a steadfast advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. His new comments came during the latest episode of the “All About Change” podcastas he sat down with host Jay Ruderman to talk about coming to terms with his sexuality, his coming out journey, and the roles allies can play.

While closeted, Collins sought to stay out of the media spotlight. “I didn’t want attention,” he said. “Obviously attention would come…especially when you’re a professional athlete and you’re over age 30 and you’re not married, people are like, ‘What’s going on there?’ I didn’t want those questions.”

 

Describing how the conversation about LBGTQ+ players in sports has changed since his own groundbreaking move, Collins noted the public reaction to WNBA player Elena Delle Donne coming out immediately prior to the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

 

“Everyone was like, ‘Okay, cool. Go win a gold medal,’” Collins said. “So that’s the response that we’re still working towards because I guarantee you, if a Major League Baseball player came out tomorrow, there would be a big media thing. But then eventually, I hope that athletes would realize, and also the media [would realize] that okay, it’ll go back to, which is what it always should be when you’re in professional sports, ‘Okay, how’s the team doing? How’s your performance doing?’”

 



When playing for the Brooklyn Nets in 2014 after he came out, Collins recalled that he “had closer relationships with my coaches, with my teammates, to the point where we’re playing against the Miami Heat and on one of the days off, an assistant coach and one of my teammates, we’re going to do a hot yoga session together. We’re doing yoga. That would never have happened when I was in the closet. But you’re forming more authentic connections with your teammates, with your coaches, with your coworkers, and life is just so much better when you're having those real connections with people.”

Asked for his take on the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in different U.S. states, Collins called the trend “not just anti-LGBTQ” but also “anti-women, anti-immigrant.”

 

“And it really is about civil rights,” he said. “And I remember having a conversation, I got to meet the late great congressman, John Lewis, and he said that the path for civil rights, it’s a marathon. It’s not like when you achieve something and you think, ‘Okay, case closed, we’ve achieved this, and we can go on to the next thing.’ And it’s like, no, because just as hard as you’re working to achieve something, there is someone on the other side who is thinking, ‘How can I get that repealed? How can I get that taken away from them?’ I don’t know what’s in someone’s soul that makes them think that, ‘How can I take away someone else’s civil rights?’ But there are people like that that exist, let’s not be naive or blind to this, but it’s constant, which is why you need the energy of the youth. But you need those people who have the experience who've been there before to also guide them.”

 

All About Change host Jay Ruderman, President of the Boston-based Ruderman Family Foundation, said regarding the episode, “Jason Collins’ journey highlights the importance of both visibility and representation. Throughout his life he’s worked to find common threads to connect with others. It turns out that our differences as well as what we have in common is what gives our communities their strength.”

 

Launched in 2018, the All About Change podcast shares stories of adversity where people have come out the other side ready to better themselves, their communities, and the world. Ultimately, it is a show about hope and activism. 

 

All About Change is the 2024 winner of The Anthem Awards and a 2023 finalist for the Shorty Impact Awards. In the leading platforms that measure the reach of podcasts, All About Change has come in #23 in the country on the Podcharts, and has ranked #18 in Apple’s U.S. podcast charts and #3 in Society and Culture, while also being featured as one of the New and Noteworthy podcasts by Apple.Spotlighting a host of inspiring individuals from an array of different industries, championing causes across the spectrum, episodes have included conversations with five-time NBA All-Star Kevin Love, discussing his contributions to reduce the stigma associated with mental health; actor, activist, and author Brett Gelman, on speaking out against antisemitism in Hollywood; and Troy Kotsur, an Academy Award-winning actor and producer who is deaf, on advocating for authentic representation onscreen.


To listen to the full All About Change episode with Jason Collins, visit: link.chtbl.com/aac-jason-collins?sid=pr-6-10


For more information on All About Change, visit: https://allaboutchangepodcast.com/


Photo Credit: Darren Carroll/Sports Illustrated



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