NBA player Jason Collins received the Courage Award at GLSEN’s New York Respect Awards on May 20, 2013. This edited version of his remarks appeared in the Summer 2013 edition of the DiversityInc magazine. CLICK HERE to read the digital edition of this and past issues.
As I’m sure you can all imagine, the past couple weeks have truly been surreal. I go from sitting on my couch next to my German shepherd, Shadow, to sitting on a couch next to Oprah. But seriously, all the support I have received has been overwhelming and humbling. To [NBA] Commissioner [David] Stern, to my entire NBA family, to the WNBA family, many of whom are here tonight with us; to my coaches and players, like Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and my brother, Jarron Collins, who played 10 years in the NBA; for their immediate supportand they took to Twitter, in this new day and age in media, with their millions of followersthank you very much.
To my familymy uncle and his fianc, Tony, are over therefriends, teachers, agents and fans, I’m so grateful for your cheering me on over the course of my life, and even louder over the last few weeks. That unconditional support is so key when someone first comes out.
This award is not about me; this award is about couragethe courage I got from others who have come before me. Role models like Martina Navratilova, Dave Kopay, Billie Jean King, John Amaechi, Brittney Griner, the list goes on and on, of those who gave me strength. It’s important that we all support organizations like GLSEN, who work so tirelessly to make it easier for everyone to be their true, genuine self. I hope that my actions will give the next person and future generations that continued hope and courage.
In closing, I again want to truly thank you for this tremendous honor and award. I know that one day soon my story will fade as we celebrate and welcome the next person who will break down a barrier and change a stereotype. But know that I am going to support the community however I can, so that we can all live in a world where acceptance and tolerance are commonplace. Thank you again for this humbling honor and award. I am deeply grateful.