Coming out

NBA’s Jason Collins may have breached the last citadel of homophobia — professional sport

Written by The Indian Express | Published: May 2, 2013 3:27:28 am

NBA’s Jason Collins may have breached the last citadel of homophobia — professional sport

In the last couple of days,Jason Collins has gone from being a relatively minor basketball player to one of the NBA’s most discussed stars,primarily because of the unprecedented courage he displayed in becoming the first active professional sportsman in the US’s four major leagues — basketball,hockey,football and baseball — to come out as gay. In an article in Sports Illustrated,Collins wrote,“I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore”,striking a blow for LGBT rights in the area of society that has proved most stubbornly resistant to evolving social norms.

In some ways,the story of Collins’s coming out seems anachronistic. It is remarkable that it didn’t happen sooner. But it is important to remember that though women’s sports have a record of high-profile female athletes revealing themselves to be gay,for years,male pro-sports have been a place where overt machismo and a hyper-masculine construct of sexuality remained dominant. That locker rooms were unkind to any deviation from heterosexual norms was an oft-repeated trope. Silence seemed the only option,until Collins.

The resistance to open up is true of male pro-sports across the world,not just in the US. For instance,when English footballer Justin Fashanu came out as gay in 1990,he was subjected to scorn and lurid speculation. He later killed himself. Even today,European soccer is marred by public displays of homophobia. Collins’s disclosure and the generally positive reaction to it should encourage other sportsmen to come out and dent the culture of silence.

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