The Big Idea – Out and about
I’m a little late to the party when I post this, but the story is still making waves here and there on the interwebs. At the insistence of a friend who is very much into basketball, I have decided to put in my two cents on the Jason Collins coming out story, as well as my own thoughts on coming out.
We all know that Jason Collins has come out of the closet, making him one of the first male professional athletes to come out as gay. Of course, women have been coming out as lesbians in pro sports as far as anyone can remember, but in the grand scheme of things, women athletes don’t typically generate this much controversy (another blog entry for another time, I promise). Former pro athletes have also come out as gay, but only after their careers have ended and they are within the safe confines of retirement
Back to Jason Collins. Why this is so significant is that he came out during his career, not after. He has made the decision that he must be honest with his teammates, his managers, his fans and the world at large in an otherwise heterosexual male oriented sport that places pride on men being men.
I’m not a big sports guy myself, but even I could tell you that his coming out would definitely make a few waves within and outside his circle. Within hours of his coming out, support as well as detractors Chris Boussard and Bubba Watson, from all over came to him. What he may or may not have known is that he started something; by the single, couragous act of coming out to a supposedly homophobic sport, he has made it clear that nothing will stop him from being true to himself.
I know the feeling of coming out myself, as back in 2002, I was forced to come out to my Stepdad. At the time, I was being stalked by some dude online who I had met at some High School event, he was playing gay (or maybe he was gay, but hadn’t come to terms with it yet), either way, the IM’s and texts were getting a bit out of hand. What made things even more complicated was that I had feelings for him too, but I was 18 and had no idea what feelings were and how to suppress them. I got scared and told my stepfather everything that was going on. a conservative Christan man part of the Promise Keepers and the men’s ministry at my church.
You would think that this is a recipe for disaster, but instead of being rebuked, I got an “its okay son”. Slowly, but surely, I came out to the rest of my family, brothers, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles. I received a lot of support from everyone in my family, even despite their protests about how I live my love life and such. In any case, I consider myself one of the lucky ones out there, and I think Mr. Miller does too. My stepdad, as well as the rest of my family, love me as I am, and have made no attempts to change anything about me. (on an unrelated note, my stepfather tragically passed away in 2005. Another blog entry, I promise on that one too)
Anyways, To those of you who are reading this and relating to this (I hope), coming out was a big deal for us no? It was the watershed moment in our life where we decided to take charge of who we are and how we live our lives. Do me a solid and remember that feeling forever, as many others have yet to experience it for themselves. Savor the freedom, the joy of having one huge weight lifted off of your shoulders
If you’re reading this and you consider yourself “in the closet”, I have something to say to you; it’s okay. I believe that people need to come out on their own time, like Ricky Martin for example. I won’t say that it is a inevitability that you may come out of the closet, but I do wish to remind you that there are groups out there who can help you sort everything out if and when you decide to take the leap
And for you heteros who have no idea what to do when someone comes out, start with a hug. A person who has come to terms with their Homosexuality needs to know that they are loved more than anything else at that time. Everything else they can figure out on their own, if you consider yourself a friend, you have an obligation to your friend to comfort and console them if they need it, and to congratulate them for saying those words they have longed to say.
In the off chance that he’s reading this, Mr Miller, to you, I leave a simple thank you to you and everything that you have done thus far.
To the rest of my readers, please sound off and let me know what you think
and thanks for reading