NBA center Jason Collins has just made sports history with the revelation that he is gay.
"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," Jason writes in an essay appearing in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated. "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."
Jason, who has played in professional basketball for over 12 years, always struggled with when he should publicly discuss his sexuality. The terror attacks in Boston convinced him the time had finally come.
"The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect," he writes. "Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?"
But another trying event left the 34-year-old sports star almost as upset. "The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage," he confesses. "Less then three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn't say a thing."
But now Jason can.
"No one wants to live in fear. I've always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don't sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly. It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret," he continues.
"I've endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain that my world would fall apart if anyone knew. And yet when I acknowledged my sexuality I felt whole for the first time. I still had the same sense of humor, I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back."
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