Originally written on Oregon Sports News  |  Last updated 11/17/14
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. We’ll know we’ve made progress when an athlete announces they're gay and the public reaction is a collective yawn. Judging by the media feeding frenzy generated by Jason Collins’ coming out, we’re clearly not there yet. The good news is that we’re a whole lot closer than we were just a few short years ago. Except for a few knuckleheads like ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the sports world- and society in general- appears willing and able to accept a gay athlete. What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a teachable moment. We should admire Collins- just as we should also admire Brittney Griner, who came out as a lesbian a few weeks ago. You might not have been aware of Griner’s coming out, because it didn’t spark the mediagasm Collins’ announcement ignited. Both Collins and Griner have demonstrated the courage to be true to who they are. In doing so, they’ve shown that whom you love has nothing to do with what happens between the lines. They didn’t set out to champion a cause, but each in their own way has. The courage that requires mustn’t be underestimated, but it should be celebrated. This is where our opportunity arises. People who believed that homosexuality was sinful, vile, and yucky raised many of us. They knew little to nothing of homosexuality; few even knew anyone who identified as gay or lesbian. They just knew it was wrong, because … well, that’s what they’d been taught. Despite this, many of us evolved beyond that ignorance and fear. We came to understand that people are far more than their sexuality. Now we have a chance to teach our children that what matters between the lines (or anywhere else in life) isn’t what you are, what you believe, or whom you love. It’s what you do. Jason Collins’ sexuality makes him no less aggressive under the boards. Brittney Griner’s sexuality doesn’t diminish her superlative skills. The knowledge of whom and how they love doesn’t make it any easier to take them out of their game. When they’re between the lines, it’s not about their sexuality. It’s about doing whatever it takes to help their team win. We can teach our children that the beauty of humanity lies in the reality that not everyone is or should be like us. The diversity of the human race is what makes our world richer and more interesting. It’s what helps us to be better together than we are as separate, unattached individuals. Our differences can unite us … if we allow them to. Hatred and discrimination diminish us all … but the important thing to understand is that those are learned behaviors. This means we can change how we view the world and those who populate it, and we can teach our children to do the same. Sports are a great way to bring people of diverse backgrounds together. They’re also a tremendous teaching tool, a way to teach children respect, tolerance, and understanding. The lesson of sports is that a person’s ability and the content of their character are more important than whom they choose to love. Someday an athlete will come out of the closet and no one will notice. THAT will be a great day for humanity; I hope we’ll see it in our lifetime. Jack Cluth is on Twitter. Follow him at @yuppieskum

Aaron Rodgers buys TVs for Packers teammates

Harbaugh smiled when asked about Michigan's bday tweet

Jackie Robinson West Little League accused of cheating

Police: Fire that burned down McClain's home 'suspicious'

Furniture store will refund purchases if OSU wins title

What each NFC team in the hunt should ask for from Santa


Is SI ashamed to mention Jameis Winston on its cover?

Kobe Bryant disappointed Lakers didn't get Rajon Rondo

Niners OT Anthony Davis takes shot at offensive coordinator

Report: Josh Smith expected to sign with Rockets

Cullen Jenkins unhappy over his roughing the passer fine

Bochy: Peavy trade was best in-season move of 2014

Peyton Manning plans to be back with Broncos next year

WATCH: Blazers announcer botches Damian Lillard call

WATCH: P.K. Subban disguises himself, surprises kids for Xmas

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Packers game is a career defining moment for Stafford

A look inside Jason Grilli's contract with the Braves

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

WATCH: Bahamas Bowl ends on insane Hail Mary play

Mike Yeo slams Wild for not having 'winner's attitude'

Michigan St. QB, Ohio State TE have awkward Twitter exchange

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each NFL Week 17 game

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

WATCH: Announcer botches call

Police: McClain fire 'suspicious'

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

Bahamas Bowl ends on crazy Hail Mary

49ers OT Davis takes shot at coordinator

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each Week 17 game

40 great Christmas-related sports names

Nick Mangold and dealing with feelings as a sports fan

Ibaka, Aldridge ejected for scuffle

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Nick Young on Kobe-less win: He needs to pass

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.