Set to appear in the pages of the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated, NBA journeyman Jason Collins penned a personal essay called “The Gay Athlete” that starts, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” Collins’ admission marks the first non-retired athlete in a major sport in the United States to come out – joining recently selected WNBA star Brittney Griner who wasted little time discussing her sexuality once she went pro. Discussing his history as an athlete and the assumed backlash he will receive from both people inside the NBA as well as fans, this is surely a read you don’t want to skip regardless of your opinions on professional athletics. Read Jason Collins’ bold editorial from Sports Illustrated here while choice excerpts appear below.

“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.”

As far as the reaction of fans, I don’t mind if they heckle me. I’ve been booed before. There have been times when I’ve wanted to boo myself. But a lot of ill feelings can be cured by winning.

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