To the world, Jason Collins’ revelation to the public that he’s gay was a pivotal moment in American sports history, marking the first time that an active player in one of the nation’s four major sports leagues had ever come out. But for Collins, it was equally important when he first uttered those words to himself. And in a new video series, Collins explains just how life changing that moment was.
As a part of the “It Got Better” video campaign, launched by Lexus in collaboration with the It Gets Better Project, Collins, alongside a host of other LGBT celebs, recalls his journey from a life of struggle in the closet to a life of freedom outside the closet doors.
“In 2011 I started thinking about the rest of my life … thankfully I had a trainer and I saw online that he did an ‘It Gets Better’ video,” Collins says. “There were so many times that I heard parts of my story in his story. I sent him an e-mail and told him in the e-mail I was gay and that I needed someone to talk to about it. We sat on a bench and it was actually the first time I said the words out loud, ‘I’m gay.’”
“It felt so good to finally realize what it is to be myself. I didn’t have to, like, say I’m going on a fictional date with some girlfriend who doesn’t exist. I could take the mask off and see that everything was okay. I was still the same person, same mannerisms, same everything. I didn’t have to lie,” Collins added.
By the next year, Collins had already come out to his family and friends, and in 2013 he came out to the world in high-profile Sports Illustrated cover story.
Now, Collins says that his life has reached a personal and professional high because he’s living his truth for the world to see.
“Throughout the NBA, the fans have been incredible. Even when I’m on the road and I check into a game it’s nice to get the nice ovation and it’s just nice to see people treat you with respect. You don’t have to fit a stereotype, you can be your own person. It’s fun to break a stereotype. It’s fun to challenge people’s misconceptions about what it is to be gay. There’s nothing like controlling your own truth, controlling your own story,” said Collins.
The Brooklyn Nets star continued sending a message of hope to his fans who are struggling to come out of the closet. “If someone has a problem with it then that’s on them, it’s not on you. You’re living your own authentic life and in time we’re gonna be on the right side of this thing, OK. Being gay is just one other part of my personality that I’m proud of and it took me a long time to get that point in my life.”
“There’s so many people who are waiting to support you and accept who you are. It got a lott better for me,” Collins added with a smile.
And he couldn’t be more right about that. – nicholas robinson