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

Juneteenth National Independence Day Act bill signing

House Passes — and Biden Signs — New Bill To Make Juneteenth a Federal Holiday

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to designate Juneteenth as a federal holiday, one day after the Senate unanimously voted for its passage. President Biden quickly signed the bill into law on June 17, making this year’s Juneteenth the first national recognition of Black Independence Day in the United…

LGBTQ protection in schools

US Education Department Issues Statement Confirming Title IX Protects LGBTQ Students Against Discrimination

Following an executive order from President Joe Biden directing federal agencies to defend LGBTQ students against discrimination, the Education Department has issued an official statement saying that Title IX does indeed ensure equal protection for LGBTQ students under federal law. Jo Yurcaba of NBC News reported that the Department of…

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Texas Governor Approves Bill Banning Discussions of Race and Racism Within State’s Schools

Texas lawmakers continue to astound with the number of racist, transphobic laws they are willing to try to write into law.  In the last few months alone, we’ve seen Texas lawmakers draft legislation that would penalize parents who support and help their transgender children access gender-affirming care with jail time…

Georgia Power, Georgia Power Foundation Invested More Than $20 Million To Help Meet Community Challenges in 2020

Originally published at southerncompany.com. Southern Company ranked No. 20 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Georgia Power and the Georgia Power Foundation today released their annual Citizenship Report highlighting how the company, its employees and retirees gave back to Georgia communities last year, helping to build…

Toyota Financial Services Issues New Asset-Backed Green Bond, Highlighting Toyota’s Ongoing Commitment to Sustainability

Originally published at pressroom.toyota.com. Toyota Motor North America ranked No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Toyota Financial Services (TFS) issued its latest Asset-Backed Green Bond, reinforcing the company’s longstanding commitment to the sale of environmentally friendly vehicles. Net proceeds from the $1.6…

ADP Recognized as a Customers’ Choice in 2021 Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’

Originally published at mediacenter.adp.com. ADP ranked No. 8 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Industry analyst firm Gartner recognized ADP as a Customers’ Choice with category distinctions in Midsize Enterprises and North America in its 2021 Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’: Cloud HCM Suites…

Cigna building

Cigna and New York Life Expand Eligibility for ‘Brave of Heart Fund’ Grants Supporting Families of Healthcare Workers Who Lost Their Lives in the Fight Against COVID-19

Originally published at cigna.com. Cigna ranked No. 33 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   On June 17, the foundations of New York Life and Cigna announced that the Brave of Heart Fund, which provides monetary grants to the families of heroic health care workers…