Collins, a 34-year-old centre, has written an article for the May 6 issue of Sport Illustrated revealing his sexuality.
“I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand,” says Collins in the piece.
Collins discusses how he struggled in his youth with his sexuality and at one point even got engaged.
“I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her.”
Collins says that it was the reaction of his close family to the news and the actions of his former college roommate, a Massachusetts congressman who marched in Boston’s Gay Pride parade, that convinced him to come out publicly.
Collins talks about speaking to a gay uncle saying that “For a confused young boy, I can think of no better role model of love and compassion”.
Collins revealed that he only came out to his brother last year, who was “astounded”.
“He never suspected. So much for twin telepathy. But by dinner that night, he was full of brotherly love. For the first time in our lives, he wanted to step in and protect me,” Collins added.
Commenters on the article were split between support and bigotry:
“Good for him. There are gay people everywhere and they are the exact same as straight people. Can’t wait until this doesn’t have to be a big deal,” said one commenter, Trey J.
While Jerry25 suggested (somewhat bafflingly, both logically and gramatically) that: “Since your Twin Brother is NOT gay, you have proven that being GAY is a CHOICE and you aren’t born Gay. Apparently the influence of your Uncle is the influence in your life that made you choose to be gay.”
“Identical Twins is the only way to impartially evaluate whether people are Born Gay or CHOOSE to be gay, since there has NEVER been a GAY gene found. Since it is a Choice, it means there is no inherent right for GAYS to have the same rights as Married people (Man and Woman).
Others on the Right were also unimpressed:
So Jason Collins is a hero because he’s gay? Our standard for heroism has dropped quite a bit since Normandy.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) April 29, 2013
Whilst others were able to appreciate the significance of his actions:
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