Archived: NBA's Jason Collins: First Openly Gay Player in Major Team Sports

By Dara Sharif


NBA center Jason Collins has made sports history by becoming the first openly gay athlete playing a major U.S. team sport.

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m Black. And I’m gay.”

With those words, Collins made his historic announcement in a personal essay that was posted Monday on Sports Illustrated’s website. The article is the cover story for the magazine’s May 6 issue.

The news comes on the heels of the NFL’s move last week to do more to protect gay football players, amid widespread speculation that a pro football player would be the first major-team-sport athlete to come out.

Instead, history is being made from the basketball court. With his pronouncement, Collins broke the sexual-orientation barrier in sports, a feat reminiscent of Jackie Robinson’s breaking baseball’s racial barrier six decades ago.

Collins, who, like Robinson, is Black, says he hopes sexual orientation won’t define him any more than race should. He says he realized life’s uncertainty in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and decided it was time to live openly. He hopes his decision to come out will do for sports what the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell did for the military.

“Critics of the repeal were sure that out military members would devastate morale and destroy civilization,” Collins wrote. “But greater openness and honesty resulting from repeal seem to have promoted increased understanding, respect and acceptance. The same goes for sports.”

Collins, a 7-foot, 255-pound free agent who played for the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards last season, says he can’t predict how his NBA colleagues or the fans will react. He hopes his 12 years of aggressive, competitive play will garner him respect and support he deserves.

“Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start,” he wrote. “Gay players are no different from straight ones.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement indicating the league’s support.

“Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue,” Stern said.

Is Your Workplace LGBT-Friendly

Several best practices can help companies create LGBT-friendly workplaces. These include:

      Creating and leveraging an employee-resource group aimed at LGBT employees and allies for advice in critical areas central to a company’s mission and values.

Click here

      to read more on how to create one.

Offering same-sex domestic-partner/spousal benefits. Offering these benefits is a requirement to make The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.

Including and encouraging LGBT leaders in decision-making roles in key business-development areas.

Endorsing LGBT events and causes.

Adding LGBT-owned business suppliers.

Starting a diversity dialogue.

Learn best practices from companies that do this welland get 100 percent HRC Corporate Equality Index ratings, especially The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees.

Latest News

Sysco Hosts First Virtual Supplier Diversity Summit

Originally published on LinkedIn.   “Although our diverse supplier program is just getting started, our efforts to embed supplier diversity best practices in our business lead the industry,” said Darnell Greene, Director of Supplier Diversity. “Our program is helping diverse-owned businesses thrive and grow in the foodservice industry and provide…

PwC on Marching for LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Originally published at pwc.com. PwC is a Hall of Fame company.   Setting the scene In recent years, societies worldwide have seen a growing culture of respect and inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people — a positive development supported in some cases by improved legal rights….

Mastercard Advances ESG Commitments, Outlining Progress in Annual Sustainability and DEI Reports

Originally published at mastercard.com. Mastercard ranked No. 2 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.   Mastercard released its 2021 Corporate Sustainability and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) reports, highlighting the company’s impact across Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) to build a sustainable and inclusive digital…