I attended a plenary session, "A Conversation with Jason Collins." The description was as follows:
ESPN NBA editor Kevin Arnovitz will have a conversation with the first NBA star to come out while still playing the game. Jason Collins will talk about this experience with the media and his experience coming out in the major leagues.
Arnovitz opened with when sports writers discussed who was gay in the NBA, "no one had Jason Collins."
Collins stated he thought about coming out during the lockout in 2011 when he had time on his hands and after seeing an "It Gets Better Video" his trainer did. He first came out to a family member, an aunt who was a judge in San Francisco, not his parents or his twin brother.
He did have a beard, a fake girlfriend in Los Angeles that no one ever saw. Before coming out publicly he had media training and learned to pivot and avoid answering questions.
His reaction to his first televised interview: "My lips were way too glossy."
Collins revealed that Martina Navratalova is his idol and he was honored to speak with her on the UN floor and continues to work with her and another idol, Billy Jean King on projects.
His main goals are to "[not] give any additional ammunition" to folks and to make it easier for the next generation to come out. He embraces his role model status willingly. He adds "when you do come out your life is going to get much better." He is pleased that the NBA is putting money back into the LGBTQ communities.
His parents taught him to be proud of what make him unique, so it was important for him to note the obvious and not-so-obvious that he is black and gay.
He will decide in mid-September about the next season but is keeping in shape because he does not "... want to turn into Charles Barkley."
He added that the culture of sport is changing and evolving, yet with meeting with some folks after coming out they had to "agree to disagree." He talked about words and how some discuss race in a coded way.
And finally he adds we "need more and more people to come out to continue the process, so we can see more examples and people can live their authentic lives."
Peace and blessings.
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