And The Truth Shall Set You Free

The first NBA player to come out is both African-American and a beautiful writer:

The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of jason-collins-openly-gay-athlete-570x758my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We’ll be marching on June 8.

No one wants to live in fear. I’ve always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don’t sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly.

It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret. 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. 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.

What I found particularly ballsy was his embrace of his Christianity:

I’m from a close-knit family. My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding.

And his physical aggression:

I’m not afraid to take on any opponent. I love playing against the best. Though Shaquille O’Neal is a Hall of Famer, I never shirked from the challenge of trying to frustrate the heck out of him. (Note to Shaq: My flopping has nothing to do with being gay.) My mouthpiece is in, and my wrists are taped. Go ahead, take a swing — I’ll get up. I hate to say it, and I’m not proud of it, but I once fouled a player so hard that he had to leave the arena on a stretcher.

I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: That guy is gay? But I’ve always been an aggressive player, even in high school. Am I so physical to prove that being gay doesn’t make you soft? Who knows?

That may be a mind blower for some. But the gay athletes and soldiers and cops I know are some of the toughest motherfuckers out there. And not just the lesbians.

I want to salute Collins for making more space in the world for more people barred by social norms from being fully who they are. He has single-handedly increased the level of oxygen gay athletes can breathe.

We’re all mortal. We all only have now. Why not tell the truth? It’s as liberating as Jesus predicted. And as transformative as the last two decades have been – as the truth has slowly won out over ignorance and prejudice. But it only did so because it was accompanied by its most powerful partner: courage.