Yesterday was a ground breaking day in gay America. I would like to preface this post by saying that I believe gay America is everyone’s America. Yesterday Jason Collin’s, a current NBA basketball player came out as openly gay. I believed this event to be monumental for one major reason. He is the first active player to come out as openly gay, ever. Players have come out in the past after their playing days had ended, but Collins was the first active player to take the courageous step. He was brave in doing this not only because he was the first but because it goes against the normative state of athletics in America and probably the world.
I started playing soccer when I was 5 years old. I consider the sport to be one of my biggest passions. It was sad to see the competitive side of game leave me this fall at the end of my senior soccer season. I learned so many things in my playing days that have helped me grow as a person. I learned leadership, work ethic, and determination through my years of soccer. I learned how to be part of a team. I learned that if I put my mind towards something and worked my ass off I could achieve great things. I am grateful for all of these lessons. I am also ashamed of the sports culture that I was a part of. The sports culture we live in is openly homophobic. Slurs like faggot, queer, gay, cock sucker, and others were common language in the locker room and the field. Effeminate qualities that we often associate with homosexuality are seen as undesirable or, at worse, unwelcome. During my sophomore year I told the guys on my team that I had a girlfriend. They haggled like guys always do but one comment stuck with me. One of my teammates said, “Sosa, you have a girlfriend. Good, I thought you were a faggot”. Looking back, I wish I would have had the guts to say something to him.
Every athlete that I talk to shares a similar sentiment when it comes to our sports culture. We cannot have room for a gay player in our locker room because it will ruin team chemistry. U.S. Soccer player Robbie Rogers retired at the age of 25 years old after coming out as gay this spring. He quit the game he loved because he knew he would never be accepted. Last time I checked, sexuality had no bearing on knowledge, skill, talent, and passion for the game. I sadly believe that Jason Collins, being a free agent, will never play another game in the NBA because of his announcement.
People have already told me that this announcement by Jason Collins is not a big deal and that we need to move on. To this I say yes, it should not be a big deal that someone is openly gay and in a professional sport but, this isn’t the reality we live in. We live in a sometimes homophobic and intolerant society. This is a time when we can talk about societal norms. This is a time we can reexamine our sports culture. Let yesterday’s events be a catalyst for this change.