The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 30, 2013

'I'm gay': NBA player Jason Collins breaks barrier

(Continued)

Living in the nation's capital last month while the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about same-sex marriage had an effect on Collins, who says "the strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable" at that time.

"Less than three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard, and I couldn't say a thing," he writes.

After being a first-round draft pick in 2001, Collins has averaged 3.6 points and 3.8 rebounds for the New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Celtics and Wizards. He's come to be known more for personal fouls — he led the league in that category one season — than flourish.

"I go against the gay stereotype, which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: That guy is gay? But I've always been an aggressive player, even in high school. Am I so physical to prove that being gay doesn't make you soft? Who knows? That's something for a psychologist to unravel," he says.

As for what response other NBA players will have to his revelation, Collins writes: "The simple answer is, I have no idea."

"Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start. It all comes down to education. I'll sit down with any player who's uneasy about my coming out," he says in his account, adding: "Still, if I'm up against an intolerant player, I'll set a pretty hard pick on him. And then move on."

Former teammate Jerry Stackhouse, now with the Brooklyn Nets, wrote in a text to the AP: "I hope Jason is received well by our NBA family. ... I've already reached out to him personally to show support and will encourage more guys to do the same."

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