When the announcement came that Jason Collins was/is gay, it was absolutely welcome news from where I was sitting. So, I read his coming out story in Sports Illustrated and raised a glass to wish him well in the basketball career that he wants to continue with.
But now I am wondering about whether I haven’t heard enough. He is apparently giving all sorts of interviews, speaking to every celebrity and their house help, will go on Oprah with his “family” and … and … and …
While I see all the benefits of Collins coming out, albeit in the twilight of his career, I am beginning to wonder whether he is well advised to turn his coming out story into a ring circus.
Yes, finally having a 7ft, 255lbs sportsman who’s been in the game for 12 years come out as gay is groundbreaking, historical stuff. But unless Jason Collins himself looks at it as an event that must quickly reach its dénouement, he runs the risk of making it look as though the coming out is more important than his sports prowess.
Yet, in my view, the real story is that a gay man is standing before us saying to the world that there is really no physical difference between a good gay athlete and a straight one. End of story, game-set-and-and-match.
So, I am going to presume and tell Jason Collins what to do.
You have made history in America. You have opened the gates I am sure for many long-suffering gay athletes. You have proved to doubters that there is really nothing to fear from a gay athlete who might be playing at the highest levels of basketball or any other sports for that matter. You have shed the yolk of silence and lies about your sexuality that might have otherwise choked you. You have blazed the trail and long may you live to enjoy the fruits of your decision to come out.
Now, hunker down, focus on finding a team that will have you as a gay man and continue playing the best basketball you can. Remember that your work isn’t done yet; indeed your work as a gay athlete of some renown is just beginning.
If you can talk to Oprah tomorrow, you can talk to her next month or even next year. Same with all the clamoring journalists who likely had never heard of you ten days ago but are now writing about you as though they were/are you other twin.
You have made the point, Jason Collins. Go away, keep to yourself and your real loved ones and focus on your future and what you want to do with it. Otherwise, the more you talk to the press, the more you will create the impression that your homosexuality and coming out is a bigger story than the fact that you have made it to the highest levels of a professional sports known for its physicality and machismo and made a reasonable impression – as a gay man.
There is really nothing more to say about your sexuality or decision to come out, Jason. Not to Oprah, not to Michelle Obama and certainly not to the fawning press.