Jason Collins is the first openly gay male athlete in any of the four major professional sports leagues in North America to come out while still active, as he did with an eloquent piece in Sports Illustrated. In that respect, he's a pioneer.
But he's not the first openly gay athlete of any sort—far from it, actually—and he won't be the last. The 34-year-old NBA veteran's courageous step into the spotlight is just the latest in a long and arduous journey with a conclusion that has yet to be reached. Collins is but the latest to bridge the sports world and the LGBT community.
His announcement, however monumental, wouldn't likely have been possible without the trials and triumphs of those who cleared the way ahead of him.
Note: A special "thank you" to Outsports, whose thoroughly detailed list of the "100 Most Important Moments in LGBT-Sports History" served as a key reference for this article.
David Kopay, 1975
Before Jason Collins was born, David Kopay, a fellow former prep star from the San Fernando Valley, blazed the trail for Collins by becoming the first professional athlete, active or retired, to come out.
In 1975, Kopay—who had retired from the NFL in 1972 following a nine-year career as a running back for five different teams—came out publicly to Lynn Rosellini of The Washington Star after Rosellini had published an article quoting an unnamed player about the trials and tribulations of being a homosexual in professional sports.
Kopay presumed the source to be Jerry Smith, a teammate with the Washington Redskins with whom he'd shared a brief affair, and he was distraught by the hate mail that poured into The Star after the article had been published. He then disclosed his own sexuality to Rosellini, without outing Smith, who had preferred to stay silent.
In 1977, Kopay wrote The David Kopay Story: An Extraordinary Self-Revelation, in which he discussed his life as a gay man as well as the prevalence of homophobia in football. Nine years later, shortly after Jerry Smith's AIDS-related death, Kopay revealed that he had shared a sexual encounter with Smith.
John Curry, 1976
Not all gay athletes have had the privilege of coming out on their own terms. In 1976, a German tabloid newspaper, Bild-Zeitung, outed British figure skater John Curry prior to the World Championships, though that didn't deter Curry from winning the event.
Curry's sexual orientation wasn't more widely discussed until the 1990s, after Curry's previously contracted case of HIV turned into AIDS. It was at that point that Curry went on record to discuss his homosexuality and his declining health.
Curry succumbed to an AIDS-related heart attack in April of 1994. He was 44 years old.
Billie Jean King, 1981
Like Curry, legendary women's tennis star Billie Jean King had control over the announcement of her sexual orientation wrested away from her rather unceremoniously. In May 1981, eight years after upending Bobby Riggs in the famed "Battle of the Sexes," King was outed in the midst of a palimony suit by Marilyn Barnett, her former partner.
The suit revealed her affair with Barnett, which had taken place concurrent with King's marriage, making her the first major female athlete to have her homosexuality aired out in public. The news cost King dearly in endorsements, to the point where she had to return to competitive play just to pay her legal bills.
King has long been a staunch advocate and a pioneer in pushing for gender equality and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 in recognition of her long-standing efforts.
Martina Navratilova, 1981
That same year, Martina Navratilova—who had teamed with King to claim the doubles title at the 1980 U.S. Open but had a falling out with her due to an alleged lack of support through Billie Jean's struggles—revealed her homosexuality publicly. Navratilova's announcement came shortly after she had obtained U.S. citizenship.
The Czech-born tennis star went on to have one of the most decorated careers in the history of professional tennis, men's or women's.
Glenn Burke, 1982
Glenn Burke waited until after his playing days were done to announce to the world that he was gay, just as David Kopay had in the mid-1970s. Burke came out in 1982, by way of an article in Inside Sports magazine and an interview with Bryant Gumbel on The Today Show, three years after his career in MLB with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A's came to a close.
But Burke's sexual orientation wasn't exactly a secret to everyone. Burke's teammates with the Dodgers knew he was gay, and many of them accepted him for it. He's credited with the invention of the "high five"—which became a symbol of gay pride in San Francisco, thanks in no small part to Burke—after running onto the field to congratulate Dodgers teammate Dusty Baker with the now-ubiquitous gesture in 1977.
Management, though, wasn't always so keen on Burke. According to the documentary Out. The Glenn Burke Story, the Dodgers allegedly offered Burke $75,000 to marry a woman and were less than thrilled to discover that he'd been involved with Tommy "Spunky" Lasorda Jr., the son of legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.
Nor was Burke's case strengthened by his lack of productivity and playing time at the major league level. The Dodgers traded Burke to the A's in 1978. He left baseball in June 1979 and attempted a comeback in 1980, only to find the A's and manager Billy Martin less than welcoming.
Burke died of AIDS-related complications in 1995 at the age of 42.
Justin Fashanu, 1990
Tragedy is far too common a theme to emerge from stories about gay athletes. Such was the case for Justin Fashanu, an English footballer who came out in 1990.
Fashanu's homosexuality had been regarded as an "open secret" early on, and his race made him a target of hate long before his orientation was made public. Fashanu was the first English footballer to be involved in a £1 million transfer, when he was moved from Norwich City to Nottingham Forest in 1981.
Fashanu struggled to find consistent employment in football after his announcement. In 1998, Fashanu hung himself after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy. Since then, a group called the Justin Campaign has worked to raise awareness about and bring an end to homophobia and discrimination in English football. To this day, Fashanu remains the only top-level English footballer to have come out in public.
Roy Simmons, 1992
Roy Simmons' story hasn't ended yet, though it's wound its way through some dark places. Simmons first publicized his homosexuality on The Phil Donahue Show in 1992—eight years after he had played his last down as an offensive lineman in the NFL with the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.
Simmons later contracted HIV in the mid-to-late 1990s. In 2006, he published an autobiography, Out of Bounds, which detailed his struggles with drug abuse, sexual promiscuity and prostitution, among other things.
Savoy Howe, 1993
It's fair to say that Savoy Howe's life out in the open has played out better than Simmons' life has so far. Howe fought in the first women's boxing match ever sanctioned by and hosted in Toronto in 1992. The next year, she discussed her sexuality as part of a documentary for Canadian sports network TSN.
Howe has since opened the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club, founded the only all-female boxing gym in Canada and become an advocate for transgender people in her sport of choice.
Greg Louganis, 1994
Famed Olympic diver Greg Louganis first went public with his homosexuality during his speech at the opening ceremonies of Gay Games IV in New York in 1994:
Rumors about Louganis' orientation had trailed him long before that, dating back to his heyday in the diving world. Louganis is the first and only man to sweep gold medals on both the springboard and the platform at consecutive Olympic Games—1984 in Los Angeles and 1988 in Seoul.
Louganis' success in South Korea was particularly noteworthy. He had tested positive for HIV prior to the Seoul Games and hit his head on the springboard during the preliminary rounds:
After getting stitched up, Louganis recovered to claim gold. Despite living with HIV, Louganis remains in good health and has become a voice and face of HIV/AIDS awareness in the decades since his Olympic triumphs.
Ian Roberts, 1995
As in the case of Greg Louganis, Ian Roberts had aroused suspicions about his sexuality years prior to his official announcement. The English-born rugby union star came out publicly in 1995, becoming one of the first active athletes to do so.
Roberts' news evoked an outpouring of support from fellow players, fans and the world of rugby at large. He retired from rugby in 1998 and has since embarked upon an acting career in Australia.
Missy Giove, 1995
Missy "The Missile" Giove's rebellious streak led her afoul of the law in 2009, when she was arrested on charges of conspiring to possess and distribute marijuana.
Years before that, though, it brought her out of the closet amidst the sport of downhill mountain bike racing. Giove, who began her athletic career as a junior national champion skier, came out to a reporter in 1995 and went on to become the winningest biker in the history of the National Off-Road Bicycle Association.
Giove retired from full-time racing in 2003 and has been featured in Rocket Power and in television ads for Reebok.
Muffin Spencer-Devlin, 1996
1996 was a monumental year in the world of golf, and not just because it marked the professional debut of one Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods. That same year also saw Muffin Spencer-Devlin become the first openly gay professional golfer, by way of an article in Sports Illustrated—not entirely unlike Jason Collins' coming out.
At that point, Spencer-Devlin had already enjoyed success on the LPGA Tour. She had won three events during the 1980s, had finished among the top 25 at Major championships five times and was well on her way to amassing more than $1 million in career earnings.
Spencer-Devlin retired from pro golf in 2000 but hasn't left the LPGA behind entirely. Her post-playing career in glass blowing led her to design the trophy currently used for the Kia Classic.
Rudy Galindo, 1996
Rudy Galindo reached the pinnacle of figure skating as the sport's first openly gay athlete (and champion) in the U.S. Galindo came out to the world in Christine Brennan's Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey Into the Secret World of Figure Skating, which was published just before he took home the men's title at the U.S. Championships in his hometown of San Jose in 1996.
He published an autobiography, Icebreaker, in 1997 and announced that he was HIV positive three years later.
Patrick Jeffrey and David Pichler, 1996
Greg Louganis' disclosure of his homosexuality after his days of competitive diving paved the way for Patrick Jeffrey and David Pichler to do the same in the sport while they were still active.
Jeffrey competed with Louganis at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Jeffrey had disclosed his sexuality by the time he arrived in Atlanta for the 1996 Games, where he teamed up with Pichler, who had come out just prior to those Olympics.
Although neither won a medal, Pichler went on to dive at the 2000 Sydney Games, and Jeffrey was hired on as the diving coach at Florida State in 1999.
Mark Tewksbury, 1998
Mark Tewksbury nearly came out in 1993, just a year after capturing Canada's first Olympic gold in swimming since 1984 with his performance in the 100-meter backstroke at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Tewksbury and Mark Leduc, a boxer and fellow Canadian Olympic medalist, granted interviews for an episode of the CBC Radio show The Inside Track, entitled "The Last Closet," but they opted to remain anonymous out of fear that their disclosure would cost them.
Tewksbury's prediction proved prescient when, in 1998, he officially came out—and had his six-figure contract as a motivational speaker rescinded for being "too openly gay." Leduc went public with his homosexuality four years prior.
Tewksbury has gone on to champion gay rights around the world and remains involved with the Canadian Olympics to this day, albeit after a bit of a falling out on account of alleged corruption.
Amelie Mauresmo, 1999
Amelie Mauresmo came out publicly as a lesbian well before she peaked as a tennis player. The French star disclosed her sexuality at the tender age of 19, shortly after upending Lindsay Davenport while on her way to the final round of the 1999 Australian Open.
In 2004, Mauresmo became the first lesbian to be ranked No. 1 in the world. She went on to win the women's singles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon—both in 2006—and retired in 2009 with 25 career titles.
Billy Bean, 1999
Not to be confused with Billy Beane, Oakland A's general manager and "Moneyball" pioneer, Billy Bean brought his homosexuality to light in 1999, four years after he retired from Major League Baseball.
Bean played for the Detroit Tigers, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres during his major league career and spent a year abroad with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in Japan in 1992. He tied a record with four hits in his MLB debut.
Esera Tuaolo, 2002
After becoming the last NFL player to take down legendary Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, Esera Tuaolo went on to tackle his homosexuality and the difficulties that concealing such posed for his life in the locker room.
Tuaolo retired from the NFL in 1999, after playing defensive tackle for five teams over the course of his nine-year career, and came out during an episode of HBO's Real Sports in 2002.
Tuaolo, who is of Samoan descent and was known during his playing days as "Mr. Aloha," has worked to promote gay rights and combat homophobia since revealing his sexuality.
2004 Athens Olympics
The 2004 Summer Olympics were notable for much more than the return of the Games to their ancestral home or even for Michael Phelps' debut on the big stage. Rather, the Athens Games were witness to the largest contingent of openly gay athletes in the history of the modern Olympiad.
All told, 11 openly gay athletes participated—two Americans (Guenter Seidel and Robert Dover), two Britons (Carl Hester and Rob Newton), one Frenchwoman (Amelie Mauresmo), one Czech (Martina Navratilova), one Spaniard (Conchita Martinez), one New Zealander (Blyth Tait), one Dutchman (Johan Kenkhuis) and two Germans (Imke Duplitzer and Judith Arndt)—with Kenkhuis emerging as the lone medalist from the group.
Sheryl Swoopes, 2005
Sheryl Swoopes' case is rather unique in a number of ways.
In 2005, she became the first openly gay player in the WNBA, after already establishing herself as one of the greatest women's basketball players of all time. In an article for ESPN the Magazine, Swoopes revealed that she was in a relationship with Alisa Scott, a former player and assistant coach with the Houston Comets, and that she and Scott were raising Swoopes' son Jordan from Swoopes' previous marriage.
Six years later, Swoopes ended her relationship with Scott and reportedly became engaged to a man. Whether Swoopes identifies as bisexual is unclear, although she would be one of the first (if not the first) athlete, retired or otherwise, to do so.
John Amaechi, 2007
Until Jason Collins' announcement, John Amaechi stood alone as the only NBA player to have opened up about his homosexuality.
Amaechi retired from pro basketball in 2003, after playing for nine different teams in the U.S. and abroad. In 2007, Amaechi published his memoir, Man in the Middle, in which he revealed that he was gay. Amaechi spoke about his experiences that February on ESPN's Outside the Lines:
Amaechi's announcement sparked reactions ranging across the spectrum. Tim Hardaway stated on radio that he hated gay people, although he later apologized for his remarks. Grant Hill, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal were far more supportive of Amaechi from the outset, and LeBron James and Pat Garrity offered commentary that was neither laudatory nor derogatory.
Olivier Rouyer, 2008
Olivier Rouyer was a prolific goal scorer during his days as a striker in French football but didn't open up about his sexuality until well after he had retired from playing and coaching. Rouyer came out in 2008 at the age of 53.
Matthew Mitcham, 2008
Matthew Mitcham's gold medal in the 10-meter platform dive at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was historic in so many ways.
Mitcham registered the highest single-dive score in Olympic history—on his sixth and final dive, no less—to snag the top prize from the Chinese, who had dominated in the pool. His gold was the first in diving by an Australian man since 1924, when Dick Eve won at the Paris Games.
Moreover, Mitcham was the only openly gay male athlete to win in Beijing. He thanked his boyfriend, Lachlan Fletcher, after his victory:
Though NBC made nary a mention of Mitcham's sexuality during its coverage. Mitcham went on to compete at the 2012 London Olympics, falling just short of qualifying for the finals in the 10-meter platform, after admitting in his autobiography to bouts with recreational methamphetamine in 2011.
Gareth Thomas, 2009
Gareth Thomas may well be the standard-bearer for high-profile openly gay athletes in the world today. At the time of his announcement in 2009, Thomas was one of the best, toughest and most well-respected rugby players in the world. He had also previously been married to his teenage sweetheart, from whom he filed for divorce in 2007.
Thomas' announcement may not have made massive waves in America, where rugby isn't exactly on the major sports radar, though it might have if Sports Illustrated had opted to put him on the cover, as rumors suggested the magazine had considered.
Not that Thomas' story didn't get plenty of airtime anyway. He was the centerpiece of an "It Gets Better" ad, booked an appearance on Ellen and made numerous other media appearances, including one on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
Thomas retired from rugby in October 2011, after failing to recover fully from a broken left arm. He's since established himself as a media personality in Great Britain, with roles on Celebrity Big Brother and ITV's Dancing on Ice.
Donal Og Cusack, 2009
Hurling is hardly a major sport worldwide, but that doesn't make Donal Og Cusack's story any less inspiring.
Unlike other gay athletes who have opened up about their orientation, Cusack didn't grapple with his sexuality and never attempted to construct a "double life." As he told the Irish Mail on Sunday in 2009 in promotion of his autobiography, Come What May:
This is who I am. Whatever you feel about me or who I am, I've always been at peace with it.
Since I was 13 or 14, I knew I was a bit different. I hate labels though. That's the way I am. I live with it and I am fine with it. People close to me will tell you there were never any tears. There was never agony. I just know this thing.
I've had to say this to people I'm close to again and again. This is who I am. This is what I do. I spend a lot of time trying to work things out but once I know something about myself, I know it. I don't agonise. It's logical to me. I thought about this but never had any problems dealing with it.
Cusack has spent his entire career with and continues to serve as the goalkeeper for Cloyne, at the club level, and the Cork senior team.
Johnny Weir, 2011
The media had long suspected that Johnny Weir was gay and not always in the most positive of ways. At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, two Canadian broadcasters openly questioned Weir's gender on account of the champion figure skater's flamboyant on-ice demeanor, to which Weir responded (via The New York Daily News):
"It wasn't these two men criticizing my skating, it was them criticizing me as a person. Nobody knows me. I think masculinity is what you believe it to be."
The next year, Weir released a memoir, Welcome to My World, which confirmed the media's suspicions about his homosexuality. He pointed to a troubling rise in youth suicides as an impetus for his decision to come out (via The Backlot):
"With people killing themselves and being scared into the closet, I hope that even just one person can gain strength from my story."
Steven Davies, 2011
Steven Davies broke new ground when he became the first cricket player to come out in public, by way of an interview with Martin Evans of The Daily Telegraph:
I'm comfortable with who I am - and happy to say who I am in public.
This is the right time for me…I feel it is right to be out in the open about my sexuality. If more people do it, the more acceptable it will become. That must be a good thing.
To speak out is a massive relief for me, but if I can just help one person to deal with their sexuality then that's all I care about.
Davies added that he was inspired by Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas, who came out while still active in 2009:
Gareth Thomas’s story helped me. It just showed me it can be done. He was brave enough to stand up and say who he was. It was a very courageous thing to do, so if I can help anyone else like he helped me, then that would be great.
The English wicket-keeper had come out to his family five years prior to the public announcement. Davies' teammates with Surrey already knew of his orientation when he made his announcement, and the England national squad subsequently offered him its full support.
Anton Hysen, 2011
The world of soccer has long been as prejudiced as other sports, though that didn't stop Anton Hysen from opening up about his sexuality. Hysen, whose father Glenn played for the famed Liverpool Football Club, came out in March 2011 at the age of 20 (via The Observer):
I may not play in the top flight but I still want to show that it isn't such a big deal. I am a footballer – and I am gay. If I perform as a footballer, then I don't think it matters if I like boys or girls.
Hysen has made 46 appearances as a defender for Utsiktens BK of Sweden's third division since 2010. He is currently the only active openly gay footballer in the world.
Rick Welts, 2011
Rick Welts isn't, has never been and likely never will be an athlete of any repute, but that does little to diminish the importance of his personal journey to find comfort within his own skin.
In May 2011, Welts, who was the president and chief executive of the NBA's Phoenix Suns, told Dan Barry of The New York Times that he was gay, adding, "This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits. Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation."
Welts became the first high-ranking American sports executive to disclose his homosexuality publicly.
Later that year, Welts left the Suns to become the president and chief of operations for the Golden State Warriors. Welts has been involved with the NBA in one capacity or another since 1969, when he started out as a ballboy for the Seattle SuperSonics.
Alan Gendreau, 2012
Like Jason Collins, Alan Gendreau is an openly gay free agent looking for a job in a major American pro sports league.
Gendreau, though, doesn't have nearly the track record in his sport (football) that Collins has in basketball. Gendreau, who was a kicker at Middle Tennessee State and has been out since high school, was passed over in the 2012 NFL draft. He hopes to latch onto a team in time for the 2013 season. As he told John Branch of The New York Times this past April:
"I’m a kicker that happens to be gay. It’s a part of who I am, and not everything I am. I just want to be known as a normal kicker."
If Gendreau does get picked up, he'll be the first openly gay player in NFL history.
Wade Davis, 2012
Wade Davis spent four years trying to break into the NFL while concealing his true identity. The 5'11" defensive back, who went undrafted out of Weber State in 2000, spent time in training camps and played in preseason games with the Tennessee Titans, the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins in between stints in NFL Europe.
Davis retired from football due to injury in 2003. Nine years later, he came out, telling Outsports.com of his decision to wait on his announcement until after his playing days:
"You just want to be one of the guys, and you don't want to lose that sense of family. Your biggest fear is that you'll lose that camaraderie and family."
Eddie George, who played with Davis in Tennessee, thought the Titans would have accepted him had he come out while he was still playing (via Outsports.com):
“I don’t see it as a problem. I don’t think it would have been a problem at all.”
Davis currently serves as the assistant director of job readiness at the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City, a nonprofit organization that works with LGBTQ youth.
Megan Rapinoe, 2012
Jason Collins wasn't the first twin athlete to come out. In July 2012, Megan Rapinoe, the star soccer player for the U.S. Women's National Team and fraternal twin sister of Rachael Rapinoe, revealed to Out magazine that she was a lesbian:
I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out. I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want -- they need -- to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Rapinoe led Team USA to gold at the 2012 London Olympics. She currently plays club soccer for Lyon in France and has been dating Australian soccer player Sarah Walsh since 2009.
Orlando Cruz, 2012
There may be no more macho sport than boxing—which made Orlando Cruz's announcement in October 2012 all the more momentous. Cruz, a featherweight fighter who competed for Puerto Rico at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, became the first openly gay active fighter in the history of men's boxing. He has also won each of his two bouts since coming out.
As he told the Associated Press at the time (via Dan Rafael of ESPN.com):
I don't want to hide any of my identities. I want people to look at me for the human being that I am. I am a professional sportsman that always brings his best to the ring. I want for people to continue to see me for my boxing skills, my character, my sportsmanship. But I also want kids who suffer from bullying to know that you can be whoever you want to be in life, including a professional boxer, that anything is possible and that who you are or whom you love should not be impediment to achieving anything in life.
Cruz is currently ranked second among featherweights by the World Boxing Organization.
Kwame Harris, 2013
Like Esera Tuaolo before him, Kwame Harris played in the trenches and happened to be gay, but he didn't come out until well after he had left the NFL.
The San Francisco 49ers selected the 6'7" offensive tackle out of Stanford with the 26th overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft. Harris spent five years with the Niners before signing with the Oakland Raiders, which released him after the 2008 season.
Harris' sexuality first came to light in January of 2013, when he was charged with felony domestic violence and assault stemming from an altercation with a former boyfriend in August 2012. Harris went on the record about his orientation during an interview with CNN this past March.
This, just after Seattle Seahawks defensive back Chris Clemons questioned what the purpose of a gay NFL player coming out would be:
Chris Clemons @chrisclemons91
Who on Gods earth is this person saying he's coming out of the closet in the NFL?3/26/2013, 10:10:05 PM
Chris Clemons @chrisclemons91
@bill0004 If you didn't do it when you were in high school or college then why wait til your in the NFL? Whoever he is he didn't just start3/26/2013, 10:12:49 PM
Chris Clemons @chrisclemons91
@Jack_Humphreys4 I'm not against anyone but I think it's a selfish act. They just trying to make themselves bigger than the team.3/26/2013, 10:20:42 PM
Robbie Rogers, 2013
Usually, the retirement of a player from the lower divisions of English soccer is anything but national news here in the U.S.
Except Robbie Rogers' retirement was not ordinary. Rogers was 25 at the time, in the prime of his soccer career and with plenty of prospects to play closer to home in MLS after he had parted ways with Leeds United.
And, as it happens, Rogers was gay. He came out concurrent with his retirement in February 2013 by way of an announcement on Twitter:
Chris Clemons @chrisclemons91
@hbonynge No one said anything about be a homophobic. I just think something's should be left at home.3/26/2013, 10:47:02 PM
In late April 2013, Rogers joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in training as a "social guest." Should Rogers decide to play again, the Galaxy could purchase his rights from the Chicago Fire, which have expressed interest of their own in signing him (per Reuters).
Brittney Griner, 2013
In many ways, Brittney Griner's homosexuality is a big deal. She is one of the greatest women's college basketball players of all time, was the No. 1 pick of the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WNBA draft and has since become the first openly gay athlete to sign an endorsement deal (and a lucrative one, at that) with Nike.
Except, it apparently isn't a deal to Griner. The All-American out of Baylor referred to her own sexuality offhand during a round-table interview with Maggie Gray of SI.com, saying that she's always been open and honest about her sexuality:
Robbie Rogers @robbierogers
http://t.co/Gdl1y6hy Just getting some sh*t off my chest. http://t.co/wqej3utZ2/15/2013, 4:47:43 PM
In essence, then, Griner didn't come out so much as she let the world know that she is, has always been and will continue to be a lesbian, without the need for any formal announcement.
Jason Collins, 2013
Not two weeks after Griner's "announcement," Jason Collins came forward about his sexuality with a spread in Sports Illustrated. Collins' coming out has sparked a positive response, by and large, from people inside and outside the NBA community. The crew from the NBA on TNT recently offered their thoughts on Collins' decision:
Collins may be the first openly gay male athlete in a major North American pro sports league, but he won't be the last. It's only a matter of time before some of his peers in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL follow suit.
Each subsequent disclosure, here and abroad, will hopefully bring down another brick in the wall that surrounds the LGBT community in sports, until, slowly but surely, there is no divide and no need for cover stories and media firestorms.
Then people of all sexual orientations will be accepted and considered equally, based not on those with whom they choose to spend their private lives but rather on their merits as athletes.