Former NBA player Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. He even got support from many people, including the POTUS.
On April 29, 2013, Jason Collins wrote a piece for Sports Illustrated that went viral. He got everyone’s attention with the first paragraph, “I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.”
He explained that he began thinking about coming out in 2011 during the NBA player lockout as the delay in the regular season forced him to confront who he really was.
Jason Collins on March 8, 2016 in Rancho Mirage, California | Photo: Getty Images
JASON COLLINS’ COMING-OUT STORY
Collins confessed the first person that he came out to was his aunt, a superior court judge in San Francisco named Teri. He was surprised when she told him she’d known he was gay “for years.”
Fortunately, it was what he needed to become comfortable in his own skin, especially because he always knew he was gay but didn’t want to accept it.
Growing up, Collins thought he needed to live his life according to what society considers “normal:” he needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. That’s why he even got engaged to Carolyn Moos. More on their relationship later.
Collins pointed out that keeping such a big secret takes a lot of energy, adding that he endured years of misery and went to “enormous lengths” to live a lie.
Shortly after the Sports Illustrated piece was released, Jason Collins got support from many people, including Oprah Winfrey and former President of the United States Barack Obama.
Other players and NBA legends like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Magic Johnson, and Dwyane Wade took to social media to prove how proud they were of Collins.
JASON COLLINS’ FIANCÉE
Coming back to former WNBA center Carolyn Moos, she was as shocked – or even more so – as the rest of the world at Jason Collins being gay. About two months after Collins’ revelation, Moos shared her side of the story.
The former couple met at Stanford University in the fall of 1997. On Moos’ first day of her freshman year, she went out for a run and saw Jason Collins and his twin brother, Jarron.
”I wish he could have been honest with me years ago.”
As a 6 feet 5 woman, she was thrilled to meet people taller than her, so she stopped and introduced herself. She was immediately attracted to Collins but was too shy, so she left after having a brief conversation.
Moos and the Collins brothers became friends as they were all basketball players, but nothing romantic happened until after she graduated in 2001. The former couple met up after one of his games and began a long-distance relationship.
He popped the question in Mexico in 2008. They moved together to Los Angeles and began planning their wedding, but he called everything off only one month before tying the knot.
At the time, she didn’t know why, especially because they had planned to have children and build a family together. She learned he was gay on the phone the same day his essay was released. Carolyn Moos added:
“I empathize with Jason and support him. But at the same time, I remain deeply hurt by him. I wish he could have been honest with me years ago.”
HE WASN’T READY
Talking to Oprah Winfrey, Collins confessed he had not achieved self-acceptance during his relationship with Moos. Still, he knew he couldn’t marry her because it would ruin their lives.
The former NBA player also said he wished he would have been completely honest with Moos about his sexuality at that time, but he was still wrestling with his truth.
Now, Collins accepts himself. In January 2014, “The Help” producer Brunson Green was confirmed as Jason Collins’ boyfriend. They have kept their relationship away from the spotlight, though.
Collins announced in March 2020 that he and his partner tested positive for COVID-19, but they are okay now. At the moment, Collins is nothing short of an LGBTQ icon.