Will NBA Player Jason Collins' Coming Out Have A Ripple Effect?

NBA player Jason Collins come out as gay.
NBA player Jason Collins come out as gay.

You may have heard that NBA center Jason Collins made history today. It wasn't for his ball-playing. He came out as gay, making him the first major professional athlete to come out during his career.

In a story for Sports Illustrated, on their site today, Collins wrote, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay." In the article, Collins, a 12-year NBA veteran, most recently for the Washington Wizards, explains that he decided to go public after the Boston bombings. "Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?"

Supportive tweets from colleagues poured in.Wizards Baron Davis on the Knicks tweeted, "I am so proud of my bro @jasoncollins for being real." Even Kobe Bryant -- who a few years back was fined after a homophobic outburst -- tweeted out praise. "Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others," he wrote. Washington Wizards team president said the team was "extremely proud" of Collins' decision to "live his life proudly and openly."

Whether Collins' decision to come out will affect his ability to get another NBA job isn't clear (he's currently a free agent). But in 29 states, it's still legal to be fired for being gay because there aren't laws that specifically prevent discrimination against gay workers. Still, there have been huge strides made in gay rights in the past few years. Recently, gay men and women won the right to serve openly in the military, and gay troops sipped champagne with their commander-in-chief at the Pentagon's first gay pride reception. And last year when Anderson Cooper announced he was gay, it barely made a stir in the broadcast world.

But almost half of college-educated professionals say they remain in the closet at work. Last year, AOL Jobs noted five industries that were still inhospitable to gay workers. Professional sports, especially football, was top on the list, but with Collins' announcement, do you think that will change soon?

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You can read the rest of Collins' Sports Illustrated article here.