Jason Collins, who played at Harvard-Westlake School here in Los Angeles, played this season for the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards. He says today in Sports Illustrated that the Boston Marathon bombings accelerated his decision to tell the sports world he is gay. "Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?," he writes. One of the first people he told was Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, his roomate at Stanford. He also told an aunt who is a judge in San Francisco. "I've known you were gay for years," she told him. But his twin brother, Jarron, suspected nothing and was astounded at the news. More from Collins in Sports illustrated:
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. 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.
No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back....
I had a happy childhood in the suburbs of L.A. My parents instilled in us an appreciation of history, art and, most important, Motown. Jarron and I weren't allowed to listen to rap until we were 12. After our birthday I dashed to Target and bought DJ Quik's album Quik Is the Name. I memorized every line. It was around this time that I began noticing subtle differences between Jarron and me. Our twinness was no longer synchronized. I couldn't identify with his attraction to girls.
The story has been in the works at least since Easter. Agent Arn Tellem at SI: "Jason has made a courageous decision. Coming out publicly required immense bravery. All sorts of people are still rejected by their families, targeted by bigots and harassed by vigilantes just because they decide to tell the truth about their sexuality."
Support from Kobe Bryant on Twitter:
I'm proud of Jason Collins. I believe that gender, race or sexual orientation should not be a factor in judging a person or their ability.— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) April 29, 2013