Tuesday, 30 April 2013

'I'm black and I'm gay' - NBA Basketball player Publicly Announces

US basketball player Jason Collins has come out as gay, the first active male athlete in a major American professional team sport to do so.

He declared his sexuality in an article for Sports Illustrated, announcing: "I'm a 34-year-old NBA centre. I'm black. And I'm gay."

President Barack Obama, NBA star Kobe Bryant and sportswear company Nike were among those expressing public support. Former NBA player John Amaechi came out in 2007, but had already retired.

On Monday, Mr Obama, who last year announced his support for gay marriage, called Collins to tell him he was impressed with his courage and offer his support, the White House said.

Former President Bill Clinton called the move "an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community".

His daughter, Chelsea, who knew Collins when they were both students at California's Stanford University,tweeted: "Very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength and courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA."

NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement: "Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue."

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was among several of Collins's fellow NBA players to offer his support publicly.

"Don't suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others," Bryant tweeted, followed by the words "courage" and "support".

Sportswear company Nike, which has endorsed Collins, also supported his decision.

"Jason is a Nike athlete," its statement said. "We are a company committed to diversity and inclusion."

The reaction was not entirely welcoming: An analyst for sports broadcaster ESPN, Chris Broussard, said on Monday he did not believe that "you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle" and be a Christian. Collins had written in the article that he took "the teachings of Jesus seriously".

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