Jason Collins: Sports And Entertainment World Offers Mixed Reactions To First Openly Gay Pro Athlete

Jason Collins became the first openly gay pro athlete on Monday, revealing his sexual orientation in an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated. Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran, played this past season with the Washington Wizards. The 34-year-old is a free agent entering this offseason, but most of the sports and entertainment world are truly hoping that he receives an offer to continue his playing career, with Jerry Stackhouse going as far to ask league commissioner David Stern to guarantee that Collins is given an offer to extend his career at least one more season.

Of course, while the majority of the reactions across the sports world, as well as entertainment and political, were positive, there were still some ignorant comments. Overall, from current and former presidents to former and current teammates as well as other openly gay celebrities, the response was very positive. Here is a look at some of the kind things that people tweeted about Collins, as well as a few who displayed their ignorance on the subject matter.

Larry King (@kingsthings): Congrats Mr. @jasoncollins34 on your courage to come out, you have helped paved the way for others – #homophobia is dead in sports – I hope!

Lena Dunham (@lenadunham): I’m gonna be the first openly straight woman to french kiss the first openly gay NBA player.

Ricky Gervais (@Ricky Gervais): Respect to #jasoncollins This is what role models are made of. Here’s to a time when it’s no big deal.

John Wall (@John_Wall): I am proud of my brother @jasoncollins34. Great teammate and mentor!

Shaquille O’Neal (@Shaq): Character is found in those who lead. I am so proud of my friend, Jason Collins, for showing all of us what leadership looks like.#way2go

David Wright (courtesy of @MLB): “Obviously you applaud just how brave he must be to come out and make that announcement.”

Scott Fujita (@sfujita55): As a father of twins, I have an even deeper appreciation for the example you’re setting. Thanks to you both. @jasoncollins34@jarronctwin

Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0): Much respect to @jasoncollins34 for doing what he is doing…. He was a great teammate and I support you either way…

Barry Sanders (@BarrySanders): I would like to pledge my support to Jason Collins, and hope someday that we only get judged by our accomplishments.

Michelle Obama (@FLOTUS): So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! -mo

Deval Patrick (@MassGovernor): “I congratulate @jasoncollins34 for his candor & his courage. We look forward to welcoming him home to Boston for the Pride Parade in June.”

Eva Longoria (@EvaLongoria): So proud of Jason Collins for being an example of bravery and courage. I applaud you!!!

Michelle Wie (@TheMichelleWie): So proud of my fellow @StanfordAlumni alum @jasoncollins34 !!#equalityforall #brave

Nick Swisher (@NickSwisher): I will always support people for being who they are. Happy for@jasoncollins34 that he can lead an honest life.

Pau Gasol (@PauGasol): It’s amazing to see such courage from @jasoncollins34 in today’s announcement. Myself and the #NBAFamily supports you Jason!

Tony Parker (@TonyParker): Really hope people will RESPECT Jason Collins for his decision to come out. Just glad he can now relax and not be afraid to be who he is.

Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson): Jason Collins has announced that he is gay. I know Jason and his family well and I support him 100%.

Dwayne Wade (@DwayneWade): Jason Collins showed a lot of courage today and I respect him for taking a stand and choosing to live in his truth. #nbafamily

Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23): Proud of @jasoncollins34 for expressing his feelings! Great teammate, mentor and better person !! #liveyourlife !

Martell Webster (@MartellWebster): @jasoncillins34 you have made sports what it should be and that’s “OPEN” proud of you for being you. That’s jump shot is still weak lol.

Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock): Being real & authentic is very powerful. Well done Jason Collins for having the courage to take a monumental step forward. #LiveReal

John Amaechi (@John Amaechi): Congratulations to Jason – sport couldn’t hope for a more eloquent & positive role model: buff.ly/16cJqSh

Katie Couric (@KatieCouric): Today NBA player Jason Collins became 1st active male athlete in major US team sport to come out-congrats! bit.ly/YhkbvE via@SINow

Jason Kidd (@RealJasonKidd): Jason’s sexuality doesn’t change the fact that he is a great friend and was a great teammate. @jasoncollins34

Doc Rivers (@Celtics): Doc Rivers: “I am extremely happy and proud of Jason Collins. He’s a pro’s pro.” Read Doc’s full statement: on.nba.com/15UPgaR

Neil Patrick Harris (@ActuallyNPH): Bravo, @JasonCollins34! Thanks for stepping up. For standing tall. And at 7 feet, that’s saying a lot.

Kenneth Faried (@KennethFaried35): Wow this is amazing all smiles.. So so happy Jason Collins came out & announce he was openly GAY ALL SUPPORT OVER HERE#ATHLETEALLY #LGBT

Spike Lee (@SpikeLee): Orange And Blue Skies Salutes Jason Collins. Thank You For Your Courage,A Slam Dunk Against HOMOPHOBIA.And Dat’s Da “FREEDOM”Truth,Ruth.

Bill Clinton (@BillClinton): I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend. wjcf.co/154piCi

Kobe Bryant (@KobeBryant): Proud of @jasoncollins34. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others #courage #support #mambaarmystandup#BYOU

Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow): .@NBA center @JasonCollins34 is the 1st out player on a US major league team. I’m overwhelmed by your bravery, Jason, & sending so much love

Of course, not all of the tweets and comments were quite as supportive. While they paled in number and comparison to the positive remarks, a few still stood out as being not only non-supportive, but also a bit derogatory. Two happen to come from NFL players, Mike Wallace and Alphonso Smith. The other is from ESPN NBA analyst, Chris Broussard. Take a look.

Alphonso Smith (@AlphonsoSmith2): Come OUT or NOT- there will be no PATS on the BACK coming from this way- Pats on the back only influence other weak minds to indulge! SMH // 2013 announcing that you are GAY is deemed as GOOD NEWS- & the moment someone disagree they are a villain, prejudice, or may lose their job // Ppl are so sensitive-I have the RIGHT to not give that behavior any applause;I love everyone-don’t hate anyone; not praising it! Excuse me! // J.Collins is obligated to do him& do it openly-however,him doing him doesn’t warrant a “round of applause” THEE END! // Also let me make this clear- I’m not applauding for anyone that’s concealing who they really are either! B-U!! // Apologize 4 what!?Choosing not to applaud for something I don’t support?I didn’t harm or say anything hurtful or disrespectful! // IDC who or what you are- doesn’t mean I hate you or even dislike you! I have a choice to support you or not! I chose not; now I’m the tyrant

Mike Wallace (@Wallace17_daKid): “All these beautiful women in the [world] and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH…” [This tweet was later deleted] // ”Never said anything was right or wrong I just said I don’t understand!! Deeply sorry for anyone that I offended(.)”

Chris Broussard (@Chriss_Broussard): “Personally I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals,” Broussard said. ”If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be. I think that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

Mark Jackson (@JacksonMark13): “As a Christian man I have beliefs of what’s right and what’s wrong, that being said, I know Jason Collins, I know his family…And certainly praying for them at this time.”

Tim Brando (@TimBrando): On the topic of Jason Collins I really don’t care and frankly why should anyone else.The HERO worship is out of bounds.I’m glad he is happy. // I called Jason and his brothers games in the NCAA’s and was happy for him upon being drafted. He is good guy. Good for him. Hero? No sorry. // I’m hearing Collins is a HERO because he made history! Ok as a Sports Commentator if I make a SEX tape is that history?The word matters ok

As I said, the comments have been mostly positive, but not all are in agreement. I’m sure it will be the same with those who read this article. Of course, the Brando tweets are just bizarre. As far the rest of you, how do you feel about Collins coming out as the first openly gay pro athlete?




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About the author

Rob Kelley

Rob Kelley is a sports reporter for various newspapers in Florida, and is trying to break back into the sports writing game after a brief hiatus following the publishing of his first book, I'm Not a Quitter. He recently resigned as Editor-in-Chief and lead writer for The South Shore Magazine to pursue better opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter @RobKelley24.