It’s only been about a year since NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, but it feels like the gay rights movement has gained significant ground since then. Eighteen states (and Washington, DC) now allow for same-sex unions! In honor of LGBT Pride Month, Collins is the face of a new campaign with Marriott International. #LoveTravels encourages LGBT travelers to feel comfortable in their hotels, and features a gorgeous photo shoot by Braden Summers. Collins chatted with OKMagazine.com about the campaign and more.
OK!: Tell us about the #LoveTravels campaign.
Jason Collins: Marriott International has this new campaign coming out called #LovesTravels, where they’re inviting all members of the LGBT community to stay at Marriott International properties. I got involved after seeing the photographer for the campaign, Braden Summers—he did a photo campaign called “All Love is Equal.” After seeing the pictures online from his campaign, I was excited to work with him and see if he could make me look good. [laughs]
OK!: What is the style of the photos?
JC: It’s going to blown up to six to eight stories, wrapping the outside of the JW Marriott in Washington, DC. There’s going to be five images wrapped around various properties throughout the DC area during Pride.
OK!: I imagine you get approached for campaigns a lot, so why did this one speak to you?
JC: Something resonated with me with the #LoveTravels campaign because I travel so much as a professional athlete, and especially as a gay professional athlete. I want to feel welcome. This campaign that Marriott International is launching, it stresses and illustrates the inclusiveness and equality that Marriott International embraces. When I travel whether for business or personal, if I’m traveling with my boyfriend, I want to to feel like I’m welcome, that we are welcome. That’s why I feel strongly about promoting this. I hope other corporations take note and do this as well.
OK!: What are your other plans for Pride Month? I’m in New York and it’s a big event that very visible throughout the city.
JC: [laughs] Speaking of traveling, I’m traveling a lot. I leave Tuesday and I’ll be in DC for the launch party at the Mayflower Renaissance for #LoveTravels. Then I head up to New York, then crisscrossing between New York and DC. Then back out here to Los Angeles, then I go back to New York in the middle of June, then back to Los Angeles. At the very end of June, I return to New York for Pride Weekend, then I head overseas to go to Wimbledon for the first time. The next six weeks are hectic. That’s why it’s all about feeling, when I travel, like I have a home away from home and I’m welcome when I enter a building.
OK!: I was going to ask what a basketball player does during the off-season, but it sounds like you’re crazy busy. Will you have any time to relax this summer?
JC: [laughs] Well, all the while I’ll be training and working out. I just finished my thirteenth year as a professional athlete, and the key, I’ve found, is to love the process of working out. You have to love training and working hard. I can’t go more than 2 days without working out. But at the same time, I’ll be traveling, meeting a lot of great people, and also finding time to be with my family. We just went to Disneyland last Friday, with my nieces and nephew. Even earlier today, I went to their swim class and hung with them.
OK!: I’ve read some reports that the WNBA is starting a campaign for the LGBT community. Do you see the NBA ever doing something like that?
JC: Maybe down the road, yeah. The NBA has been extremely supportive. When I came out last year, one of the first events I did was an event with the NBA,and with then-Commissioner David Stern, who has since retired. I met with Commissioner David Stern and now Commissioner Adam Silver. But there’s a big group that went to GLSEN. Are you familiar with GLSEN? It’s an organization where they work with schools to provide support for LGBT kids, and anti-bullying, and safe zones in schools where kids are encouraged to live an authentic life. The NBA is very supportive, and has really set the tone as far as what language is and isn’t appropriate on the court. The leadership, from David Stern and now Adam Silver, has been second to none. They really do a great job of supporting their players, and supporting all athletes.
OK!: How has the locker-room culture changed? It’s amazing that you’re heading up a campaign like this. I think it would have been unimaginable even two years ago. Since you had such a positive reaction from other players, how has the culture changed?
JC: There’s something about when you live an authentic life, and when you are really proud of who you are, that people respect. People support someone who’s proud to be who they are. With the Brooklyn Nets, the entire organization, from the ownership to the coaches to my teammates, it’s like a family. The support was incredible. I’m very proud to say I’m a member of the Brooklyn Nets last year, and all that we accomplished. Again, I was hoping we’d go a little farther. But LeBron James and the Miami Heat had something else in mind. [laughs]
OK!: I know you didn’t have a ton of time in Brooklyn this year, but I happen to live there, so—as a tourist, what’s your favorite spot?
JC: I love brunch, and there’s a restaurant called Egg. Have you been? It’s really good. I highly recommend it.
What do you think of Marriott’s new campaign? Do you plan to celebrate Pride Month? Have you been following Jason’s career? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @OKMagazine.