Eighteen months after coming out gay in
the pages of Sports Illustrated, Jason Collins announced his
retirement from the NBA in the same publication.
The 35-year-old Collins played 22 games
with the New Jersey Nets last season, ending his career with the same
team where he got his start in the NBA 13 years earlier.
“It has been 18 exhilarating months
since I came out in Sports Illustrated as the first openly gay
man in one of the four major professional teams sports,” Collins
wrote. “And it has been nine months since I signed with
the Nets and became the first openly gay male athlete to appear in a
game in one of those leagues. It feels wonderful to have been part
of these milestones for sports and for gay rights, and to have been
embraced by the public, the coaches, the players, the league and
Since Collins' coming out, the NFL
drafted its first openly gay player, Michael Sam, who is currently
unsigned, and professional soccer welcomed its first gay player,
Rogers signs extension with LA Galaxy.)
Collins added that he knows other
professional athletes who are gay.
“There are still no publicly gay
players in the NFL, NHL or major league baseball. Believe me: They
exist. Every pro sport has them. I know some of them personally.
When we get to the point where a gay pro athlete is no longer forced
to live in fear that he’ll be shunned by teammates or outed by
tabloids, when we get to the point where he plays while his
significant other waits in the family room, when we get to the point
where he’s not compelled to hide his true self and is able to live
an authentic life, then coming out won’t be such a big deal. But
we’re not there yet,” he said.
Sam named one of GQ's “Men (and women) of the Year.”)