Jason Collins, a black male basketball player currently signed with the Washington Wizards, came out as being gay in a cover story for Sports Illustrated. His story is being promoted as that of the “first active player in one of the four major American professional team sports to announce that he is gay.” Some are calling Collins’ move heroic, while others say he hasn’t put much on the line by coming out–especially in light of the fact that the basketball season is over and Collins will be a free agent come July
In his coming out story, Collins admitted that he had dated women for years while he tried to figure out and accept his sexuality. He was even in a relationship with one athlete, ex-WNBA player Carolyn Moos, for 8 years, before finally calling off their engagement.
Actress Gabourey Sidibe was questioned about her thoughts on Collins’ big reveal by Access Hollywood host Billy Bush, and she quipped, “Who hasn’t dated a gay dude?!?” Sidibe said that she caught one of her recent boyfriends trying on her heels, and even though he never admitted the truth about his sexuality to her, she said she put two and two together to figure out he way gay before finally ending the relationship. Luckily for Ms. Sidibe, she didn’t end up losing eight of her most fertile years dating the gay boyfriend.
While it’s definitely a weight off ones shoulders to finally be able to live your life openly if you are a gay or lesbian person, it can also be argued that there are benefits to heterosexual people too when society is accepting–if not exactly encouraging–of people who are gay, lesbian, or transgender: There might wind up being fewer straight people who find out their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend was actually a gay or lesbian person who was afraid to come out.
Jamila Akil is a Senior Editor at Beyond Black and White. Chat with her on Twitter @jamilaakil