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Collins gives LGBT community boost

1 May 2013 By Matt Hamilton, Staff Writer No Comments

If you are reading this, you probably are aware that the Washington Wizards suck. If you didn’t know: where have you been for the past three years?

At this point in the year, the only news that Wizards fans are worried about is who the team will be drafting with its top 10 pick in the NBA Draft in June. I sincerely hope it is not ex-Maryland center Alex Len, but I digress.

The Wizards seldom find themselves in national news. Heck, the team is more likely to hear its name on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno than on Sportscenter. That is, until Jason Collins came out as the first active athlete in a major American team sport to admit that he or she is gay.

I was at Susquehanna when I noticed the Wizards logo on ESPN, and I was immediately taken aback. After squinting to see why in the world the Wizards were on television, I realized that something amazing had happened and it had nothing to do with the team itself.

Before I progress, I’d like to let readers know that this column has nothing to do with gay marriage or rights denied to the LGBT community. This is simply a story about a gay basketball player and how he may change the world as we see it.

Jason Collins, the former Washington Wizards center, defied conventional wisdom when he came out. Professional athletes are not supposed to be gay, right? Wrong.

Stereotypes suggest that a gay male must be overly feminine and certainly not macho like a professional athlete. I hate stereotypes. If stereotypes were true, then I’d be as gay as they come, but that’s not the case.

The truth is that gay men and women look, act and play sports just like everyone else. I believe homosexuals are the same as anyone else, they just happen to give their hearts to someone of the same sex.

This is why Jason Collins’s announcement was so monumental for gay men and women around the world. Stereotypes that exist in our society make professional athletes out to be too masculine or too strong to identify as gay.

As it turns out, Jason Collins is masculine, strong and gay. Why is this so hard to understand? I have to hold back from getting preachy, but I am so happy for Collins because he was not afraid to challenge stereotypes.

Jason Collins gives gay another face, a new identity of sorts. However, a man with such power coming out as gay does not come with backlash.

I dare you to go to ESPN’s website and check out the comments under each article about Collins’s announcement. The feed is updated every couple of seconds, with homophobic jokes making up a good majority of the comments.

If I were gay, these comments would hurt deeply. However, Jason Collins was not scared to finally be who he was.

He knew that his comments would be met with opposition, but he said he felt America was ready for a professional athlete that was gay. I sincerely hope he is right.

Judging by the support of his fellow NBA players and coaches, including Kobe Bryant and Doc Rivers, I would say that the game is ready. With each pledge of support, I get all giddy inside because it is one step closer to a world where gay isn’t a deficit, rather an identity.

As openly gay former MLS player Robbie Rogers said on his Twitter, “I feel a movement coming.” I feel it too Robbie, I feel it too.

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