NBA center Jason Collins, who played for the Washington Wizards last season, has become the first male athlete still active in a major professional sport to come out as gay. Collins made his announcement to Sports Illustrated, which will feature Collins in this week's issue.
"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," Collins tells SI. "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, who became a free agent when the regular season ended, says he decided to talk about his sexuality now because "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."
Collins, 34, who went to high school locally at Harvard-Westlake, also credits his former Stanford roommate for his decision to come out.
"I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator."
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