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NBA veteran center Jason Collins comes out as gay
“I feel a movement coming,” he tweeted after word of Collins‘ news broke.
Female athletes have found more acceptance in coming out; Brittney Griner, a two-time AP women’s college basketball player of the year now headed to the WNBA, caused few ripples when she said this month she is a lesbian. Tennis great Martina Navratilova, who came out decades ago, tweeted Monday that Collins is “a brave man.”
“1981 was the year for me _ 2013 is the year for you,” her post added.
Sports leagues in Britain and elsewhere in Europe have been trying to combat anti-gay bias. But the taboo remains particularly strong in soccer, where there are no openly gay players in Europe’s top leagues. Homophobic chants are still heard at some games.
Soccer “is not going to change,” said Amaechi, who is English and now lives in Manchester. “If it wanted to change, it would change. It has the resources to do so. It doesn’t want to change.”
Justin Fashanu is the only significant British soccer player to have come out publicly, doing so in 1990. The former Nottingham Forest and Norwich City striker was found hanged in a London garage in 1998 at age 37. According to an inquest, Fashanu left a note saying that, because he was gay, he feared he wouldn’t get a fair trial in the United States on sexual assault charges. Maryland police were seeking him on charges that he sexually assaulted a 17-year-old boy.
Among other athletes outside the U.S. to come out was Gareth Thomas, a Welsh rugby star who attracted widespread media attention in 2009 when he announced he was gay. He continued playing until retirement in 2011.
Orlando Cruz of Puerto Rico came out in October as the first openly gay professional male boxer. Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury came out six years after winning a gold medal in the backstroke at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Four-time Olympic diving gold medalist Greg Louganis of the U.S. revealed he was gay in 1994, a year before announcing he was also HIV-positive. Former Olympic skiing gold medalist Anja Paerson of Sweden announced last year, after retiring, that she was in a long-term relationship with a woman.
“He has no regrets coming out,” she added. “And he wants to play. And we’ll see what happens next.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney called Collins‘ decision courageous and said the administration views it as another example of progress and evolution in the U.S. as Americans grow more accepting of gay rights and same-sex marriage.
Former President Clinton said: “Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive.”
Collins attended Stanford with Clinton’s daughter Chelsea and played in a Final Four while at the school. His twin brother, Jarron, was also a longtime NBA center who last played in the league in the 2010-11 season. Collins says he told his brother he was gay last summer.
“He was downright astounded. He never suspected. So much for twin telepathy,” Collins writes in SI. “But by dinner that night, he was full of brotherly love. For the first time in our lives, he wanted to step in and protect me.”
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