Why Jason Collins is Important

graemeOIPIn this month’s edition of Sports Illustrated Magazine American pro-basketball player Jason Collins has announced that he is gay. In doing so Collins became the first professional American athelete, playing a team sport, to ever declare that they are same sex attracted.

Upon first hearing the news you might wonder why this is such a big deal, celebrities declaring their sexuality is rarely the earth shattering news that it once was. While Ellen DeGeneres got a cover of TIME magazine, more recently celebrity coming out stories, such as those of Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons or Ezra Miller, have been much more low key events.

As our cover star this month Abbe May asks, should sexuality even be a talking point in this day and age? The reality is we all wish it was not, but in some professions and definately in some countries, positive role models are desperately needed. The sports arena is pretty high on that list, so Collins’ annoucement is hopefully a watershed moment.

A friend I’d known since primary school recently said to me, ‘You know the only gay role model we had when we were kids was Boy George, and it was hard as a kid to reconcile knowing I was gay, with an equally strong awareness that I had no desire to wear make-up, sing and dance.’

This is why Collins coming out is important. There are gay people who play and like football, soccer, basketball and tennis. There are gay people in every realm, every country and every part of society. Until all these people are free to express their sexulaity without fear of danger or victimisation, there is still not true equality.

Collins announcement has been welcomed with a personal phone call from the US President and praise from his contemporaries. He has also immediatley become an inspiration to any young boy or girl who is into sports, and looking for a role model to look up to. Hopefully he won’t be spending too long on his own in this category.

Graeme Watson
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Read our most recent story on Abbe May here.

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