Jason Collins came out, and yes, it is a B.F.D
By Sam Perwin
As the universe knows well by now, last week, Jason Collins became the first active professional athlete to come out of the closet. The reaction (from the media at least) was overwhelmingly positive and heartwarming. Many other professional athletes and public figures gave him kudos, his family was supportive, Fox News was up in arms - all was right with the world.
I would have thought it would be the guy who hikes the football...
There were a few pundits, though, who seemed to say - with good intention - that it wasn't a big deal, that coming out stories weren't really news-worthy anymore. In the age of Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen, Modern Family, and other Non-Threatening Gay Situations, it's nice to think that we've all come to a place where a public figure coming out isn't a big deal. And perhaps in the entertainment industry, we're at least in the vicinity of that place. But this is professional sports, and again this is the first male, active, professional sports player in history to come out of the closet. It really is a B.F.D. And here's why: kids need role models. All kids. When you feel different for whatever reason: gender, race, sexuality, disabilty, etc., your whole life changes when there's someone like you in the public eye to look up to.
I always say that everything I need to know about being gay I learned at theatre camp. I went to Interlochen Arts Camp, a very intense, rigorous theatre training program in Michigan, and that's where I met my first gay role model: my counselor, Pete. I was 12, and every morning we would clean the cabin with Abba blasting and Pete sashaying around with a broom. He took a bunch of us to an Indigo Girls concert; he quoted the Golden Girls in every situation. I even remember talking about Pete's delightful flamboyancy with my two best camp friends, both of whom are straight, and we all gave a collective shrug. Pete was super-fun. Who cares that he's gay?