In what may be construed as a historical landmark, an NBA player has announced he is gay. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Jason Collins shared his sexual preference with the world and became the first active North American professional athlete to do so.
Collins showed the courage to do what no active homosexual athlete has done before him.
Some might disagree with his announcement and feel as though perhaps he should have kept his lifestyle private. That’s one way to go about it, but then again few truly ever complain when heterosexual individuals put themselves out there by embracing a misogynistic culture and teaching it to our youth (exhibit A: watch just about any rap video).
For several straight men and women, homosexuality is a touchy subject. It makes certain people uncomfortable. However, this topic is important to me as a black man and more importantly as a father.
Prior to the contest between the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets on April 29, Kenny Smith stated beore a national audience what I had been advocating to many. He shared a story in which the great Bill Russell told him that as an African-American, the one thing our people have always wanted is inclusion.
If we take that a step further, black people have been hoping and expecting to be tolerated, respected and included into society just like any other individual regardless of color or creed.
I can recall when I was a mere four-year old playing in my backyard and some kids from the neighborhood who felt I didn’t belong started calling me a nigger and telling me to vacate the area.
While some might automatically think I’m referring to an event that occurred in the 1960s, this occurred around 1985.
Some individuals once upon a time even used Bible scriptures to outline the rationale behind racial inequality. Heck, God surely would have approved of slavery right?
My larger point is simple: whether I agree or not with the lifestyle of homosexuals is completely irrelevant. What does matter though is for me to treat them like equals.
I know firsthand what it feels like to be an outsider and believe it or not, the same can be said of gay people.
Expecting everyone to accept this message and value it for what it is would be incredibly shortsighted of me. Some will offer different opinions based on their beliefs and what have you and that’s perfectly fine.
But the first step to making our society and on a bigger scale our world more tolerant of others is recognizing differences do exist.
Jason Collins put the first domino in motion today and we might just be better off for it in the long run.