By: Dan Leach
Follow Dan Leach on twitter @dtmleach
The fact that it took this long for an active gay athlete playing in the four North American sports leagues to come out is maddening. The fact that it finally has happened should be celebrated and I believe is the start of much bigger things to come. It was embarrassing not that long ago when African American players were not allowed in baseball and Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby helped paved the way for the sea change. It wasn’t that long ago that women were not even allowed to vote, yet alone have respect alongside the men when it came to sports. Billie Jean King and many others helped that become just a memory.
Jason Collins, who plays for the Washington Wizards in the NBA, decided that enough was enough when it came to being an active openly gay athlete, with his heroic declaration; I think it will change sport forever, for the good. There has long been a fear that if an active professional athlete came out there would be an unbelievable amount of backlash, and sadly most of it by his fellow players. There has been some disrespect, but the majority reception from current and former athletes has been a feeling of gratitude and respect and that is the way it should be.
It is 2013 and sadly there are still people out there who believe being gay is a choice. I have many gay friends and I can tell you without a doubt they did not choose to be that way. It is who they are and it is what makes who they are beautiful. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best in his famous “I Have a Dream” Speech: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. Color of skin, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs should never matter when compared to who you are as a person.
For too long we as a society have worried too much about people different from us rather than look at how those differences make us all beautiful. There are not many days that you can point to in life that carry a tremendous amount of weight when you look back on them 50 or even 100 years later. I believe April 29, 2013, will be one of those days, when another major hurdle, that for far too long was looked at without love, understanding, and tolerance, was overcome.