Originally posted on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 4/29/13

For months, the sports world has discussed the potential of the first gay professional athlete.  Advocacy and support for an active gay athlete in American professional sports has grown immensely in the last several years and the question was becoming a matter of when and who and not if.   The time is now and the person is NBA center Jason Collins, who played with the Washington Wizards this past season.  Collins penned a first person story in this week's Sports Illustrated as this week's cover story.  Here's Collins in his own words: "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. My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons. I've played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you're in the league, and I haven't been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates' teammates. Or one of your teammates' teammates' teammates. 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." Collins has been a serviceable big man for over a decade and has played for 6 NBA teams in his career and was a member of the Washington Wizards the past season.  Collins is a free agent looking for a team heading into next season.  Although Collins' first-person narrative is a powerful read and journey into his decision, a remarkable aspect of the story is that Jason Collins didn't come out to his twin brother Jarron until just last year. "I didn't come out to my brother until last summer. His reaction to my breakfast revelation was radically different from Aunt Teri's. He was downright astounded. He never suspected. So much for twin telepathy. 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." This is a monumental moment in American sports.  Now that Jason Collins has taken the step, he has opened the door for other current athletes to follow suit. [Sports Illustrated]

This article first appeared on Crossover Chronicles and was syndicated with permission.

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