Yesterday, NBA player Jason Collins told the world he is gay. He wrote this terrific piece for Sports Illustrated, describing his process.
We don’t follow much in the way of sports around here, and basketball is no exception – I didn’t know this guy’s name before yesterday, but I’m pleased for him. I’m glad he feels free now, and I hope his life and career go smoothly forevermore.
This morning on the radio, the announcers discussed this latest news item as my son ate his breakfast. He put his fork down while he chewed on it all.
He: Mummy? The guy they’re talking about… what’s his name?
Me: Jason Collins. He’s a basketball player.
He: *worried eyes* So… what happened to him?
Me: Well, yesterday he made an announcement that he’s gay.
He: Oh. *thinks* So… did he… die?
Me: *shrieks incredulously* NO! What?! No, no he’s fine.
He: *knits brows* So… why are they talking about him?
Me: Well, I think he’s the very first openly gay basketball player in the league. ‘Openly gay’ is when a person doesn’t try to hide the fact that he or she is gay.
He: *flatly* Oh.
Me: Yeah. *blinks*
He: But… so… why is there a problem with that?
Me: What do you mean?
He: Well, why are they talking about it on the news? Is it… like, a big deal or something?
Me: *smiling* You know, this shouldn’t be news at all, Oliver. You know it doesn’t matter what people do or who they love. His job is to play basketball. *shrugs* That’s it. So, where he lives, what kind of car he drives, or who he marries, or what foods he eats… not important stuff. It’s just that this is the first time a professional basketball player said so out loud. So… it seems like a big deal, but it shouldn’t be. But everything is scary when it’s the first time. It takes a lot of courage to stand alone. It will be easier for the next person, I hope.
He nods turning back to his breakfast, quietly chewing and thinking.
He: So, are they going to do this every time someone says they’re gay?
Me: Oh god, I hope not.
He: *nods* Mm-hmm…
I can’t tell you how much I love seeing this societal shift. I love how my kid has no idea why any of this could be thought of as a big deal. It’s mainstreaming at it’s finest. I want so much for this not to be a big deal. I want so much for people to just go about their lives, happily and safely. I’m glad to see we’re getting closer and closer to a day in time where if you’re in opposition, then you are standing alone.
Because really, it ain’t no thing. Everybody just shut up and do your work, you know?
I also watched this short film early last week, depicting what it would be like if heterophobia was an actual thing – it’s called Love is All You Need. It’s an excellent story, well shot and edited, and has already won a slew of film awards since it’s release in 2012. It can be brutal to watch at times… but that’s largely the point of the message of bullying. It’s been flying around the internet, and it’s worth the nineteen minutes, if you care to watch.
As you were then… nothing to see here, folks…