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By Julie Caponigro

This story appears in the May 6, 2013, issue of Sports Illustrated. In a game changing statement Collins proclaimed “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

Collins illustrated that coming out is an uncomfortable experience but a worthwhile cause. His statements were influential to many other sports stars who were fearful to be an openly gay athlete. “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.”

He stated in the article that his journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in his hometown of Los Angeles and took him through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons. Although it was clearly an internal struggle and he surely experienced turmoil, he proved to be a successful athlete who thrived through keeping himself a secret. He played for six pro teams and appeared in two NBA Finals and is a well-known player on the court. He has played in the NBA for twelve seasons spending time with on the Celtics before switching to the Wizards this season.  At this point in time he is currently a free agent which raises the question of whether his coming out will influence his success in the NBA or not.

When Collins was questioned by Sports Illustrated about why he chose now to come out to the public he explained that he started thinking about coming out in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. He said the lockout wreaked havoc on his training habits and forced him to confront who he really was. He said he was forced to do so because he was not able to be distracted by occupying himself with training. After the lockout was broken he returned to the distraction but the idea of coming out publicly stayed with him.

Collins said that the real turning point in his decision was the recent Boston Marathon bombing. He said that it reinforced that he should not wait for the perfect circumstances to come out. The marathon bombing showed us all that things can change in an instant, so we should all live truthfully and to our fullest extent of happiness.

Collins told his very close friend Joe a few weeks ago that he was gay, Joe was happy and grateful for Collin’s trust. Joe asked Collins to be his partner in 2013 and they will be marching on June 8! Collins is supported by his brother and family as well.

 

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