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Jason Collins Becomes First Openly Gay Professional Male Athlete

CICELY MITCHELL, CBS Houston
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(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) NBA player Jason Collins made history on Monday, not for his playing but for coming out as gay. With Monday’s admission of being homosexual, Collins is now the first openly gay professional male athlete in a major sport.

Collins now a center for the Washington Wizards has appeared in 32 games this season for the Boston Celtics. During an interview with Sports Illustrated, Collins says that his decision to admit that he is gay is one he is comfortable with: “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.”

Collins also stated: “When I was younger I dated women. I 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. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.”

The 34-year-old former Stanford University student also stated that  he has lived with the personal pain of the decision to come out or not: “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,” he writes. “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.”

Collins who is also graduated from Harvard-Westlake School, is now enjoying liberating and new found freedom as a professional basketball player: “Now I’m a free agent, literally and figuratively. I’ve reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.”

Click here to read the full Sports Illustrated article.

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