The first but not the last

Story by David Heiling , News Editor

It’s sort of a Pandora’s Box in a way. One person coming out of the closet is not necessarily uncommon. It’s a life-altering event for that specific person making the announcement, but it does not affect an enormous audience.

Not until Monday.

Professional basketball player Jason Collins admitted in an interview with Sports Illustrated Magazine that he, in fact, is a gay man playing a professional sport. This knowledge will definitely attract attention from a large amount of people.

Directly or indirectly, this affects basketball players, owners, team members and fans, not to mention close family and friends of Collins’ as well.

His announcement was the first such announcement made by any active homosexual man in any of the four big professional sports (basketball, football, hockey and baseball) and he did it with a sort of confidence that made me want to root for him more than anyone else.

It’s going to be a domino effect in the next couple weeks in professional sports. Everyone was waiting for the first domino to fall, and it has.

This will give other gay men in sports the confidence to admit they are gay as well. I would not be surprised if you see another one by the end of this school week come out and admit to it.

Collins is obviously going to be treated differently now. Whether that is that being coddled by people who accept him for who he is, or bashed by people like Pittsburgh Steelers WR Mike Wallace or ESPN analyst Chris Broussard.

Wallace’s tweet, only three hours after Collins had made the knowledge of his sexuality public, basically said he didn’t approve of what Collins was doing.

“All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH (shakin’ my head) …”

Broussard was discussing the breaking news with other ESPN analysts on the show “Outside The Lines,” when he so eloquently said gay people cannot be Christian.

“As a Christian, I don’t agree with homosexuality,” Broussard said. “I think it’s a sin.”

My challenge is this: don’t judge people on their sexual orientation. I know you have all heard this before and you’re probably thinking I am just another gay activist, but it’s true.

There are many reports out there that Collins is one of the nicest and most respected players off the court, and now that he came out, everything is about to change, and that is wrong.

For Collins, and for every other gay athlete out there right now that is mulling over whether to make it public or not, I hope they do. I also hope they continue to go out every night in whatever sport it is they love and perform at the highest level.

I’m sure accusations of not being “manly” enough will surface, that’s why I hope the players continue to do what they do best and excel further.

This is the time to show, on a humongous platform gay men and straight men can perform at the same level in professional sports. I feel like this could be a huge step in the right direction for the fight for equality.

Matt Bomer, who plays Neal Caffrey on the show “White Collar” on USA Network is gay, and he is one of my favorite actors. Frank Ocean is gay and he is one of my favorite musicians, and let’s be honest, Ellen Degeneres is hilarious and is openly gay as well.

I’m not saying just because Collins came out of the closet, he is my favorite player in the world, but he definitely has my support and my cheer when he has a good game.

Good for you, man, good for you.