The Talker: NBA player Jason Collins comes out as gay

The Talker: NBA player Jason Collins comes out as gay

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

For a number of years now in many--if not most parts--of American life, people who are gay have been honest about who they are, and accepted for who they are; but, not in America's biggest sports leagues.

The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB have never had an active player say publicly that he is gay. Until now.

The basketball player Jason Collins has told his story. His first-person narrative in Sports Illustrated begins: "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black and I'm gay."

Collins said lying about his sexuality for 12 NBA seasons took enormous energy and made him miserable, but he felt his world would fall apart if anyone knew the truth.

In more recent years, he wanted to tell the truth, but did not want to be a distraction to the teams he played on. Then, two big things happened.

First: he's not on a team. He's a free agent, so he's in-between teams. So for the moment, he represents only himself.

The second thing was the Boston Marathon bombing. Collins writes the bombing: "...reinforced the notion that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?"

Up until now, the perception was that a gay athlete in one of the biggest sports leagues would not be accepted by his teammates. Some straight athletes have said that. But, things have been changing quickly and the reaction to Collins has been overwhelmingly positive among pro-athletes.

Kobe Bryant tweeted, "Proud of Jason Collins. Don't suffocate who you are because of the ignorance of others.

NBA player Steve Nash tweeted: "The time has come. Maximum respect."

One negative remark came from football player Mike Wallace who said, "All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys." He later deleted the tweet and wrote: "Never said anything was right or wrong. I just said I don't understand! Deeply sorry for anyone that I offended."

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