Beyond the Carolinas: NBA player comes out

Beyond the Carolinas

National

NBA player comes out

NBA’s Jason Collins: ‘I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.’

NBA’s Jason Collins: ‘I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.’

NEW YORK CITY — NBA veteran center Jason Collins has become the first active male professional athlete in the major four American sports leagues to come out as gay.

Collins wrote a first-person account posted April 29 on Sports Illustrated’s website. The 34-year-old Collins has played for six NBA teams in 12 seasons. He finished this past season with the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent. He says he wants to continue playing.

Collins writes: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay. I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

Collins continued, “I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, ‘Me, too.’”

Collins said he quietly made a statement for gay rights even while keeping his sexual orientation a secret. He wore No. 98 with the Celtics and Wizards — 1998 was the year that Matthew Shepard, a gay college student in Wyoming, was killed and the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization, was founded.

He wrote that the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15 “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?”

- - - advertisement - - -

And now, he says, he will be in Boston on June 8, marching alongside Kennedy at the city’s 2013 gay rights parade.

His twin brother, Jarron, was also a longtime NBA center. Jason said he came out to his brother last summer.

“He’s my brother, he’s a great guy, and I want him to be happy. I’ll love him and I’ll support him and, if necessary, I’ll protect him,” Jarron wrote, in his own Sports Illustrated essay.

The White House on April 29 joined the chorus of praise by commending Collins for becoming the first active male player in the four major American professional sports to come out as gay.

— LGBTQ Nation

Rhode Island approves marriage

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed Rhode Island’s marriage equality bill into law on May 2. The state is the tenth to approve recognition of same-sex marriages.

Hundreds of people who had gathered for Chafee’s signing ceremony broke out singing “Chapel of Love.”

“Now, at long last, you are free to marry the person that you love,” Chafee said.

In Charlotte, local LGBT community leaders also reacted positively to the news.

Bishop Tonyia Rawls of Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte and the Freedom Center for Social Justice said she is looking forward to the day marriage equality is a reality in North Carolina.

“I am extremely excited about the progress that the country is making in terms of equality for all of her citizens,” Rawls said in a statement. “I am also grateful for those states that are now receiving marriage benefits and hold hope for my own North Carolina as it relates to our embrace of equality for all.”

Scott Coleman, chair of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte Board of Trustees, also praised the move.

- - - advertisement - - -

“The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte is excited that Rhode Island has become the tenth state to enact marriage equality into law,” said Coleman. “This is yet another step towards full equal rights for all LGBT Americans. This also demonstrates that if we unite together, there is nothing that our community cannot accomplish!”

Rhode Island joins its neighbors Massachusetts and Connecticut. Other states that recognize same-sex marriage are Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

North Carolina voters passed an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages last year. Advocates in Raleigh had planned on marking one year of the discriminatory amendment on May 8. Log on to goqnotes.com for our extended feature marking the anniversary.

— Matt Comer

Global

World’s first openly gay government leader retires from politics

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — The world’s first elected openly gay head of government has retired.

Johanna Sigurdardottir, 70, ended her political career on Saturday, capping 35 years of public service in Iceland, where she served as Prime Minister since 2009.

A social democrat and Iceland’s longest-serving member of Parliament, Forbes listed Sigurdardottir among the 100 Most Powerful Women in the world in 2009.

Also Iceland’s first female prime minister, Sigurdardottir was elected as head of a center-left alliance on a wave of public disgust at the previous administration.

During her administration, Iceland became the ninth country to legalize same-sex marriage when, in 2010, a marriage equality bill was passed with no political resistance.

Sigurdardottir and her partner, Jonina Leosdottir, married two weeks later on the first day the law came into effect.

In September 2012, Sigurdardottir announced she would not seek re-election and would instead retire from politics.

— LGBTQ Nation

National and international news content provided courtesy of and reprinted in partnership with LGBTQ Nation, a qnotes media partner. For the latest national and international news, visit lgbtqnation.com.

- - - advertisement - - -