Monday, April 29, 2013 • 9:06 AM Comments ()

Former Celtic Jason Collins Becomes First Openly Gay Professional Male Athlete

posted by Pete Redington

History has been made.

Twelve-year NBA veteran Jason Collins has become the first openly gay male athlete to come out while still playing a major American sport. Regardless of what does, or doesn't happen over the remainder of his career, he will now be forever known for his important role in the sports equality movement.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," Collins tells 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."

Collins played center for the Boston Celtics earlier this season, before being traded to the Washington Wizards (along with Leandro Barbosa) for guard Jordan Crawford.

A free agent after this season, Collins needs to be signed by a new team if his playing career is to continue.

"Collins writes [in Sports Illustrated] that he first thought about coming out in 2011, during the NBA lockout," reports SBNation. "That period of his life "wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want," he writes. At that point, he confronted his aunt to tell her the news. He then thought about coming out publicly after a college roomate marched in the 2012 Boston Gay Pride parade. Collins was playing for the Celtics at the time. The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing convinced him that the time was right, which prompted the news."

Former NBA player John Amaechi came out several years after his playing career was over. As a member of the Orlando Magic, Amaechi played for Doc Rivers, current coach of the Boston Celtics. "Rivers had been one of the first people to publicly support John Amaechi when he came out of the closet in 2007," Cyd Zeigler reports for OutSports.com.

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