Although the mainstream media, are trying to say NBA free agent Jason Collins coming out as a gay man is a big deal the truth is it isn’t. Jason Collins is not the gay Jackie Robinson although he is on the cover of the Sports Illustrated. When is Orlando Cruz the Puerto Rican boxer should be on the cover? Orlando Cruz came out as a gay man in late year in in the fall and he is still active in boxing. Since boxing is considered a fringe sport, Cruz isn’t getting the media attention he so rightfully deserves.
Orlando Cruz has won two professional fights since he came out of the closet last fall, so why isn’t he on the cover of the NY Times or ESPN Magazine? Why is Orlando Cruz so disrespected just because he’s a boxer?
Jason Collins coming out, might make a difference in the black community though, he shines a spotlight into the struggles gay black men experience in society. I think that’s the only thing I can really take out of Jason Collins coming out he might allow our community to have more of a dialogue about homosexuality. It does take courage for a black gay man to come out especially if the man is a professional athlete.
I am cynical because, I think the social impact is only going to really occur when a gay man comes out in a team sport while he is still active and in his prime.
When is a male sports superstar going to come out as gay like Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Amelie Mauresmo have done in women’s tennis? Navratilova, King, and Mauresmo are elite tennis champions they reached number one in the world and won multiple grand slam singles titles. Navratilova and King came out in the 1980s they lost millions of dollars in endorsements.
Amelie Mauresmo came out at the beginning of her career after she reached the Australian Open women’s final in 1999. Due to Navratilova and King’s success on the tennis court it was easier for Mauresmo to come out as a lesbian. Mauresmo retained all of her endorsements and she’s a national hero in France.
There still isn’t a professional male athlete in a team sport who is active out of the closet. Jason Collins is a journeyman, he wasn’t a great player and he’s not active he’s a free agent.
In order to smash the misconceptions about gay men in professional sports, it is going to take someone braver than Jason Collins.
It is going to take a man who is in his prime, a professional athlete, and someone who is a solid athlete.
Since, Jason Collins is thirty four years old, he waited until the end of his career to come out which is easier. Collins has nothing to lose coming out now he competed in the NBA for twelve years.
It is sad that the majority of the gay male athletes who do come out only come out always come out at the end of their professional careers. At the end of a pro athlete’s career there is less stigma to coming out and less of a risk.
There is a serious issue of homophobia in men’s professional sports given the fact nobody wants to come out while active.
Since at least 5 to 10% of the population is gay there has to be more gay men in the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL who are gay but closeted. Why are these gay men still in the closet?
In the grand scheme of things, Collins is thirty four years old, he’s not on a team. Collins also waited until the end of his career to come out as a gay man. I commend Collins for having the courage to come out, but he is not the gay Jackie Robinson. The social impact that Jason Collins coming out is going to have is small. If Collins had come out maybe five years ago, while he was active in the NBA then he could have made a difference.