Jason Collins shocked the world with his simple statement. Jason said, “I’m a 34 year old center in the NBA. I’m black. And I’m Gay.”
That makes Jason the first professional male athlete in a major sport to confess he is gay.
Jason became a lightning rod for support and hate alike on the day he told the world his secret. I was surprised when my local small town newspaper decided to join in on the hate parade. I hear people calling in to my favorite radio station to spread their hatred for homosexuality. It seems everyone out there has an opinion, and the nastiest voices are getting the media spotlight.
That isn’t right.
I’m not going to pretend this issue is one that deserves debate. There is a clear division between right and wrong on how homosexuals should be treated. It doesn’t matter what color you are, what culture you come from, or what school awarded you degrees. You’re not smarter than this issue. This is about humanity and human rights.
You either support human rights, or you don’t. It’s that simple.
A time comes when silence is betrayal… – Martin Luther King Jr. on Vietnam
It’s time to give voice to those who can stand up to the evil notion that gay people are somehow second class citizens.
Excuse Me? You’re Wrong
There’s a new headline in my local paper. It says, “Jason Collins – human, yes; a hero, no.” This appeared in the Sports section. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the article to be a thinly veiled hate post based on religion.
It’s time to clear up some misconceptions the author, Brian Nielsen the Journal Gazette & Times Courier Sports Editor, felt the need to spread.
Mr. Nielsen wrote:
If Jason Collins wanted to bother with some small-town sports editor’s column, he could strike back immediately. That’s why I am hoping this is not misinterpreted as stones being thrown at the first NBA player or major American men’s sports professional announcing he is gay.
Be assured that Collins could find book, chapter and verse time and time again to point out my sins using the same Bible that I read to note one of his.
The difference is I would hope to find mercy and forgiveness not applause. So I am bothered by the hero’s welcome that Collins seems to be getting across the country this week with his announcement.”
This is a common tactic I’ve seen tossed around lately. Mr. Nielsen assures the reader that he’s not throwing stones at Jason Collins for being gay. Nielsen is simply bothered that Jason Collins is receiving a hero’s welcome for committing a sin. I fail to see the difference.
Nielsen goes on to say:
Years ago Jackie Robinson fought a courageous, pioneering battle — a battle that was unfair for a man to have to fight just because he was born with a certain color of skin. To compare the plight of Collins with his own lifestyle choice to Robinson’s should really insult Jackie’s family today. It even bothers me.
Still we have people calling Collins a pioneer.
I never heard that, and rightfully so, when NBA player Shawn Kemp had fathered several illegitimate children with different women. Some chuckled about that, which obviously was wrong.
Others blasted Kemp, again when maybe they had their own lives that could be criticized.
Hopefully, at least one person tried to help a man with a problem.”
Jackie Robinson did fight a courageous battle. Jackie changed the face of sports. Literally. That’s one reason why Jackie Robinson is among my personal heroes.
Jason Collins is also a part of a segregated class of people that face discrimination in the form of words all the way to violence. Gay people come from all skin colors, classes, and countries. They face potential hardship wherever they go.
Nielsen calls being gay a lifestyle choice. It must not occur to Nielsen that sexual orientation is not a choice that can be made for gay people. Many gay people report knowing they were different at a very early age; often they feel this before they even know anything about sex. The sense of being different from family and friends can lead to depression, anger and resentment.
Nielsen goes further to compare being gay with fathering a horde of illegitimate children. I guess I should remind you that Nielsen claims he’s not throwing stones. He’s just saying gay is a choice – a bad choice – and on par with being a whore. When Nielsen says a person helped Kemp with his problem, he is insinuating that someone needs to help Collins with his problem. Once again, I fail to see how Nielsen is playing nice.
More from Nielsen:
More recently, Tiger Woods’ career tumbled and he lost a large amount of sponsorship dollars once his immoral lifestyle came to light. At least Woods, sincere or not, made a public apology for his faults and expressed the desire to change.
Best that I can tell, Collins has not done that.
“I’m black and I am gay,” he said as if one has anything to do with the other.”
It looks like Nielsen expects Jason Collins to apologize for being gay. Nielsen wants to hear Jason Collins express a desire to change.
Why Should Collins apologize for anything? He can’t apologize for being gay anymore than he can apologize for being black. There is nothing wrong with Jason Collins. NOTHING.
Being gay is not a lifestyle choice, it’s not a sin, and it’s certainly not something people need to change about themselves.
Bigotry is a choice. Bigotry is a trait that can be changed. Brian Nielsen, I would like to see you apologize for being a bigot and express a sincere desire to change. I hope you find that to be an easy burden to unload.
More from Nielsen:
Courageous? This announcement comes during a time in our society when so-called political correctness has overwhelmingly trumped Christian morals and a time when Collins was going to get positive feedback. Somehow, many have decided they know the rules better than God.
In view of that, I have realized that unlike anything else I write as sports editor, this opinion is so against the current trend that it needed my publisher’s approval.”
Here we have the heart of Nelsen’s problem. Nielsen believes he lives in a Christian nation with Christian morals. It is the rest of us that ignore God’s laws.
I respect anyone’s desire to find peace and wisdom in religious and spiritual traditions. You can count me among the billions worldwide with some idea of spiritual matters. That doesn’t mean I’m a Christian or should be subject to any person’s idea of Christian morals and laws.
Brian Nielsen wants to speak out against the sin of homosexuality. He truly believes it is wrong because his interpretation of the Bible tells him it’s wrong. The Old Testament is the usual culprit in the outcry against homosexuality. There are orders to put all kinds of people to death in the Old Testament. I suggest Mr. Nielsen consider that his New Testament is a message of love. It wouldn’t serve mankind very well to follow all those old testament consequences.
Let’s assume Jason Collins is a Gay Christian. Does that give Nielsen the right to call him out like this? No.
I have a better idea for Brian Nielsen. Stop passing judgment on Jason Collins, and anyone else you discover is gay. You could spend time in prayer on behalf of those who discover they are different. Pray that they find peace so they don’t end up with depression or struggle with suicidal thoughts. Pray that their family and friends accept them for who they are.
The last part from Nielsen:
You would hope that (Collins next season) would come without unnecessary, cruel or childish comments from someone in the stands. But if Collins next basketball season is applauded for anything other than a basket, rebound or defensive play, that would be wrong as well.”
I hope Collins is accepted and supported by his teammates. I hope his community and fans accept him as well. I really hope Jason Collins walks onto a basketball court to the roaring ovation a hero truly deserves. The idea that a heroes welcome would be wrong is laughable.
Jason Collins In His Own Words
I’ve been countering the thinly veiled bigotry from a local newspaper. It’s easy for me to sit back and say Jason Collins is a hero. I will forever honor him for the courageous stand he took.
There were no openly gay athletes. It just wasn’t okay to be gay in the land of sports. Nobody was standing up to be recognized.
Then Jason Collins raised his hand. He spent twelve years in the NBA hoping someone else would raise their hand first. Jason couldn’t wait any longer.
Why Do I Think This Is Important?
Did you know that gay teens are five times more likely to attempt suicide? Gay kids are bullied, spit on, beat up, and ostracized from social circles. They hear the word fag tossed around as an insult among the straight kids. There are even cases of gay teens being murdered for no other reason than their sexual orientation.
Jason Collins took one brave step towards changing a culture. Will his admission lessen some of the overdone macho man world of sports? If that happens there will be a trickle down effect on the overall psychological view of homosexuals in sports specifically and life in general.
Imagine a high school where the athletes defend the gay kid from other bullies. Why would they do that? Their idols in the professional leagues do the same thing.
Celebrities and Professional Athletes influence large portions of our culture. The famous supporting Gay Rights lend credence to the overall message. It’s about love.
Jason Collins stepped out without knowing what would happen to him for sharing his truth. He did it because it was time.
His action will save more than one life.
Can there be anything more noble?
A Parting Message From Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
You can reach Brian Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-238-6856. Let him know what you think about his opinion.