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Ex-Celtic Jason Collins reveals he is gay

04.29.13 at 11:31 am ET
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Center Jason Collins, who spent most of the season with the Celtics before being traded to the Wizards in February, reveals in the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated that he is gay.

Collins, a free agent, explained that at the age of 34 and with 12 NBA seasons (among six teams) behind him, he feels more comfortable discussing his sexuality. He also explained that Boston played a key role in his decision, which he had been considering since the 2011 NBA lockout.

Writes Collins: “I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, ‘Me, too.’

“The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn’t wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We’ll be marching on June 8.”

Collins also explained that he wore the No. 98 this season because of the year’s significance to the gay community. In 1998, gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, tortured and tied to a fence, eventually dying from his injuries.

“When I put on my jersey I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends,” Collins writes.

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