Michiana reacts to NBA's first openly gay player - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Michiana reacts to NBA's first openly gay player


There was big news from the NBA Monday and it was not about the playoffs.

Veteran NBA player Jason Collins becomes the first active male athlete to openly come out in a major United States sport. In a Sports Illustrated article released Monday, Collins simply states "I'm a 34-year old center. I'm black. And I'm gay."

Nationally, several celebrities from the likes of Bill Clinton to Kobe Bryant have supported Collins calling him "courageous."

Even locally, people have weighed in on the topic, like Notre Dame Defensive Tackle Louis Nix, who tweeted "Jason Collins is Gay? Who Care? He is Human."

The story about Collins was somewhat shocking for Michiana gay rights activist Joel Barrett. While Barrett hopes this opens more doors for other major professional athletes, he wishes the story was not being blown out of proportion.

"There's a part of me that says I'll be glad when this isn't news anymore," said Barrett. "Right now it is news because there is not equality. People don't have to come out as straight, that's not news. Coming out is still news in the sports field, so I'm happy that it sets a precedent."

Many local athletes agree that when it comes to gay and straight athletes, things should not be so black and white. Several basketball players at South Bend's Angela Park told us they would be fine having a gay teammate.

"I'm not going to point him out cause he likes guys. He's a teammate. That's what basketball is about, it's a team," Giusepe Higbee, a South Bend resident.

Not everyone was as accepting though. Some of the players at the park said they would struggle with the idea of playing with an openly gay athlete.

"See, me personally, I believe in the Bible," said Tony Scott. "The Bible say [being gay] is wrong. For me I won't encourage it. I won't judge him, but I won't encourage it."

While many people throughout the country are weighing in about Collins' decision to come out, both good and bad, Barrett says spurring this discussion is a good thing.

"It's a way of saying this isn't a big deal anymore and so I think that's really important," said Barrett. "I think that's going to encourage and help a lot of other people."

The news on Collins comes at the same time that rumors have been circulating throughout the sports media world. Multiple reports claim there is a group of NFL players who are also thinking about disclosing their sexual preference to the public.

Several professional athletes have come out publicly prior to Collins. The most notable recently is WNBA star Brittney Griner, who told the public she was gay after being selected as the #1 pick in the 2013 draft.

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