Image by Kwaku Alston/For Sports Illustrated

Yesterday news broke with NBA player, Jason Collins, coming out as the first openly gay and active men’s professional athlete. Sports Illustrated’s website has an article/open letter from Collins detailing his reasons for coming out. While  being gay isn’t as controversial as it once was in the past, it still takes an amazing amount of courage for anyone to come out of the closet, especially for someone in the public eye.

Collin’s started his NBA career in 2001 with the New Jersey Nets after attending Standford. After spending 7 years with the Nets he went on to play for the Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, and finally the Wizards. This summer he’s slated to become a free agent with intent to pursue another contract.

Though Collins has received mostly positive and supportive reactions from athletes and non-athletes, there’s definitely been some shade thrown his way. According to the NYTimes, Mike Wallace, wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins sent out a Tweet saying: “All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys.” The tweet was later deleted and Wallace apologized for the comment. Also, on ESPN, NBA analyst Chris Broussard called Jason Collins a sinner. Who the hell isn’t a sinner though? Here’s video of Broussard’s comment.

Collins wrote in his Sport Illustrated piece, “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.” Although he admits he would rather someone have come out before he did, he decided to do so since no other athlete has.

It’s great that Collins chose to come out and be the first to go through the motions so that other athletes and other people in general can see that coming out isn’t the death of a career, image, etc. The unfortunate part about Collins coming out is that it might not create as much change as an All Star, championship winning athlete coming out. Nonetheless, congrats and best of luck to him.