The decision by NBA centre Jason Collins to come out as the first openly gay player at a top-level US professional team prompted widespread support.
In Boston, where Collins began this season playing for the Celtics, the Red Sox offered Collins the honour of throwing the opening pitch at Fenway Park. Current and former basketball players also expressed support.
LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant was among the first current NBA stars to comment. Two years ago Byrant was fined for using a gay slur against a referee during a game. He later apologised and went on to tackle a fan for using “gay” as a term of abuse.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 29, 2013
Team-mates at the Washington Wizards also offered their support.
— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) April 29, 2013
— Garrett Temple (@GTemp14) April 29, 2013
In an official team statement, the Wizards said they were “extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly”.
Denver Nuggets player Kenneth Faried – whose mother is in a same-sex marriage – delivered was particularly enthusiastic on Twitter:
— Kenneth Faried (@KennethFaried35) April 29, 2013
Participants in other sports also reacted with messages of support. This from NFL star Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings:
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) April 29, 2013
Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, a prominent supporter of the campaign for marriage equality in the US, credited Collins for “opening doors and doing it his way on his time”.
The Red Sox extended the offer of a first pitch via its official Twitter feed:
We salute you, @jasoncollins34 for your courage and leadership. Any time you want to throw out a first pitch at Fenway Park, let us know.
Billie Jean King, the former tennis great who went on to win the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work advocating gay rights, said she was “thrilled” that Collins had come out, but hoped for a day when such an announcement wouldn't be seen to be news. She said:
This is a day of celebration for the LGBT community and for all of us. I look forward to the day when the news of anyone coming out, is a non-issue and once we reach that point we will know we have arrived.
In politics, former US president Bill Clinton, whose daughter Chelsea was a college friend of the NBA player, released a statement declaring that the decision to come out was “an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the announcement was “another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country.”
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