What if you looked in the mirror and couldn’t see yourself? For many Americans and others around the world, that’s reality. But Jason Collins is putting his reflection back where it belongs—in plain sight. Let’s not force others to disappear in the process.
Two weeks ago, Brittney Griner, the 6-8 basketball All-American from Baylor, announced that she was a lesbian. “Ho hum,” the sports world responded. Lesbians in sports don’t rouse much attention—and that’s good.
Last Monday witnessed some history. Collins, a 6-11 center for the NBA’s Washington Wizards last season, wrote in Sports Illustrated that he’s gay. A veteran of 12 NBA seasons, he became the first active player in America’s four major pro leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL) to come out of the closet. The reaction was close to “ho hum.” That’s good, too.
I have a personal stake in this. I have three sons. The eldest, like me, is straight. The middle was born female and is transgender—a term that in many ways defies description. He refers to himself as male and legally changed his first and middle names. My youngest is gay and happily married—to my son-in-law.
I’m delighted that Collins received much support—from President Obama, NBA commissioner David Stern and Lakers star Kobe Bryant among others. But not everyone was thrilled. Chris Broussard, who covers the NBA for CNN, said on the air that homosexuals violate the laws of Jesus Christ. He took flack. On Tuesday, Broussard wrote online, “As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement … and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA.”
While most sports fans and much of America is cutting Jason Collins slack, lets cut Chris Broussard some, too. Look, I totally disagree with his opinion. But he’s entitled to his religious beliefs so long as he doesn’t interfere with others who believe or live differently. And he says he won’t. So let him demonstrate that without being demonized.
Many Christians, Jews, Muslims and others think that homosexuality is wrong—and sinful. I disagree. But people who hold those positions must be free to do so as long as they don’t act to restrict others’ lives. We cannot uphold freedom of religion and speech if we refuse to allow those with different opinions to speak out.
According to millions of Christians, I’m going to hell. I couldn’t care less because I don’t believe that there’s a “right” religion or form of religious expression let alone a hell. But I care deeply about their right to express themselves so long as they don’t assault my privacy or preach—let alone act on—restricting my rights and freedoms.
So here’s to gay and lesbian athletes who now can see more of themselves in the mirror and, hopefully, compete openly. And here’s to the First Amendment with which no one should compete.
Responding is simple. Click on “comments” above then go to the bottom of the article.