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Gay Athlete Comes Out: It Actually Happened

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Jason Collins and Jarren Collins arrive at the 2007 NBPA All-Star Gala at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on February 17, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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We have an active gay athlete in a major North American sport. Jason Collins, 34-year-old center recently of the Washington Wizards, has come out.

Holy shit.

I can talk about the tweets of support from Kobe Bryant, from the Wizards, from commissioner David Stern, from former president Bill Clinton:

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I can talk about Martina Navratilova's response:

I can talk about his employment prospects, the potential homophobia in the locker room, the homophobia that is still a cancer in society where husbands and wives cannot visit their spouses in a hospital room.

But for a gay sportswriter this really hit home.

I teared up. I read the reactions from his fellow NBA players and teared up some more.

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I always imagined that this moment would have to be done in a press conference. I imagined the player would have had to be an All Star at the very least to make an impact.

But here was a journeyman who knows his role — "I take charges and I foul," he acknowledged in his story — and it still impacted me. It wasn't a press conference, but I still had tears dribbling down my face.

Growing up I was told being gay is evil. When I came out to my mom at 17, she threatened to kill me then kill herself if I ever brought up the subject. In churches, in the Korean community, gay is synonymous with bad bad bad.

That's why whenever anyone asked me about a gay athlete, I dismissed it. Society is not ready for it.

But today all of that is gone. We have a gay athlete. We have a gay athlete.

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I'm going to bask in the emotions today. Whether he'll have a job next season, whether the players who are not so supportive will come around. All of that can be talked about at a later time.

And what is probably the best thing to come out of this: it tempered the hysteria of Tim Tebow being cut by the New York Jets.