Professional basketball player comes out of yon closet.

Let’s be real: sports, specifically high school sports, are often awash in religion (thanks, FCA, you jackasses).  And where there’s higher levels of Christianity you can bet there’s higher levels of homophobia.  Which is why when a professional athlete comes out of the closet you know we’re making progress.

The first male pro athlete to come out of the closet is Jason Collins.

NBA center Jason Collins, a 34-year old journeyman, came out as gay in an op-ed in Sports Illustrated on Monday, becoming the first athlete in any of the major American leagues to do so while still an active player.

“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport,” Collins wrote. “But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation.”

Collins is a good fit: he’s 7’0″ and 255 lbs.  Who is going to say anything to that guy?

I grimaced waiting for the reaction from other athletes not named Chris Kluwe, and the first comment I read was from Kobe Bryant:

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant on Monday applauded veteran Washington Wizards center Jason Collins, who became the first active player in all major American sporting leagues to come out of the closet.

Bryant, the fourth leading scorer in NBA history, passed along his well-wishes to Collins via Twitter:


It wasn’t the first time Bryant took a stand in defense of the LGBT community on Twitter. In February, the former MVP and five-time NBA champion reprimanded a Twitter follower who had used a homophobic slur.

God damn…I’ve never liked Kobe Bryant.  I think he’s a ball hog.  But maybe I can like him a little bit now…

And on the same day the New York Jets released Tim Tebow, opening up tons of opportunities for him in the Canadian Football League.  Well played today, professional sports.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Glodson

    The world is changing. While there will still be a number of athletes ready to say dumb stuff about Jason Collins, I think more will be supportive. At least, in the public. Much more than even five years ago.

    And five years from now, I expect the environment to be even better.

    Finally about Tebow: the guy couldn’t play. That happens. The funny thing is that, apart from his religiosity induced stupidity, I don’t mind him. It is his die-hard fans that piss me off to no end.

  • Laury Plant

    Noooo…..we don’t want Tebow! (CFL statistician)

    Aside from that, I’m super happy about all of this.

  • Andre Chemist

    Re Kobe: he was fined last year for using a gay slur toward a ref who called a foul on him. I think his twitter identity is more of a PR thing to cover for that incident (and to make him more marketable overall of course), so I wouldn’t jump on the Kobe bandwagon too quickly if I were you.

    • Glodson

      I wouldn’t jump on him too bad for that. Sadly, using such words is common in our culture, and people do it often out of sheer thoughtlessness as to the harm such words can cause.

      As far as I know, you are right. But it could also be that the backlash he got for uttering the word taught him a lesson as well. I do know that many people have been called out for using a slur and opted to double down. At least, whether out of the need for good PR or because he learned a lesson, Kobe passed this test.