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Apr 29, 2013 12:27 PM

Jason Collins, 12-year NBA vet announces he's gay

I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black and I'm gay," begins Jason Collins the 7-foot, 12-year NBA veteran who sat down with Sports Illustrated contributor Franz Lidz and Executive Editor L. Jon Wertheim to openly discuss his sexuality and why he is now making it public. Collins's exclusive story is part of a Sports Illustrated cross-platform editorial package on the gay athlete. The issue hits newsstands this week and Collins' poignant thoughts can be found here now on SI.com.

Collins's essay takes us through his decision as well as reaction from family members and close friends. "I realized I needed to go public when Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford, 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," Collins explains. "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."

Also from the piece: "The strain of hiding my sexuality became almost unbearable in March, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against same-sex marriage. Less than three miles from my apartment, nine jurists argued about my happiness and my future. Here was my chance to be heard and I couldn't say a thing. I didn't want to answer questions and draw attention to myself. Not while I was still playing."

Collins's decision to go public causes his family trepidation. "My maternal grandmother was apprehensive about my plans to come out publicly," he says. "She grew up in rural Louisiana and witnessed the horrors of segregation. During the civil rights movement she saw great bravery play out amid the ugliest side of humanity. She worries that I am opening myself up to prejudice and hatred. I explained to her that in a way, my coming out is preemptive. I shouldn't have to live under the threat of being outed. The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ's."

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