By Travis West | Sports Editor
Jason Collins redefines masculinity. The 34-year-old NBA center publicly came out of the closet and in doing so became the first active male athlete in a major American sport to make the announcement.
“I’m black and I’m gay.” Collins said in an interview with journalist Fran Lidz in the May 6 issue of Sports llustrated. Collins made the decision of coming out after feeling the pressure of living a life of lies.
“I’ve always been scared of saying the wrong thing,” Collins told Lidz. With each person he revealed his sexuality to; Collins’ courage grew and after some time he was able to come out to the world.
Collins’ act of courage will undoubtedly inspire other athletes to come out and ultimately force us to look at what we define as masculinity.
American culture has a stereotype of what is seen as homosexual. Athletic is usually not included among these traits.
In recent years, more athletes have come out and announced their sexual preference. Wade Davis is a former NFL player who came out last year.
Davis is a gay right activist and in full support of Collins.
In the story with Lidz, Collins says that he thinks a lot of players would be surprised because of his role as a NBA center.
Standing at 7 foot, Collins was asked to use his 255 lbs frame to guard players like Shaquille O’Neal, take brutal fouls in the low post and set the occasional screen on small guards.
His aggressive style of play did nothing to hint at his sexuality as Collins did his best to act “straight.”
As a result, Collins was able to play the part of straight man on and off the court, leaving his former fiancee Carolyn Moos none the wiser.
Moos claims to not have any idea about Collins and is confused about the whole ordeal.
“Every morning he woke up and put on a mask for 33 years,” Moos said to the New York Daily News.
Whether you are for or against Collins, it cannot be denied that the coming out of gay athletes in sports dominated by heterosexual males has changed the way we look at male sexuality.
We live in a time where straight men get facials, manicures and pedicures and even get their eyebrows threaded daily. And of those straight men, I doubt many of them have football or basketball practice before or after getting any of those things done.
The days of defining one human being as gay or straight are slowly starting to blur and it will eventually decrease the stereotype because nobody will be able to tell who is gay and who isn’t.
The manliest man is no longer the toughest and the toughest is no longer the manliest.
Collins’ coming out is a step in the right direction for our culture. The more we look past the exterior and search for understanding of the interior, the more we do not allow stereotypes to control our minds.