Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why Jason Collins Coming Out Is Important And A Good Thing For Society

Jason Collins
I've expressed support for LGBTQ rights on my blog, because gay rights are simply human rights. That is why when I heard about Jason Collins coming out and receiving mostly support I was happy. I was happy that our society is getting to a point that a professional athlete can be different from the perceived  "norm," and still be supported. Not too long ago in history if an athlete wasn't white, straight  and Christian they faced scorn and even violence. We have long viewed athletes as role models in our society (for better and worse), so for someone to not be afraid to say they are different should be an inspiration to youth. I am bugged by people who say, "Why does this mater?" though.

If you've talked with enough people about Jason Collins or listened to the news you have probably heard some variation of, "Good for him coming out, but it doesn't matter. What matters is how good he is at the sport." This whole line of thought is seemingly delightful with its, "Live and let live" philosophy but just doesn't work. The idea is that a person should be true to themselves and not be afraid to openly discuss who they are, and the person they love. Someone can be a great basketball player, writer, or doctor, but if they have to hide who they are it is sad. That is why the whole idea of brushing things off with a, "I don't care," is just annoying to me.

This does matter because there already are people who are reacting to Jason Collin's announcement in horrendous ways. I've seen too many pictures and ".gifs" on the internet saying something like, "Tim Tebow discusses being a Christian and is insulted, Jason Collins says he is gay and is called a hero," as if Tebow's choice of religion and Collins being born gay are somehow entwined. Last time I checked Collin's hasn't tried to force homosexuality on anyone while meanwhile Tebow espouses about his views all the time and crusades against a woman's right to choose. Tebow has every right to be whom he is, but I get angry when I see him trying to force his ways on other people. This article sums up the strange way people are linking Tebow and Collins, and I agree that it is ironic people who have persecuted others (anti-gay people) are now playing the victim.
LeRoy Butler
I'm not anti-church, I just think we should treat everyone with love and not all people think that. I tip my hat to LeRoy Butler who proudly says he was raised in the church and tweeted his support to Jason Collins. It causes me to become very upset however when I then see Butler share that a church he was going to speak at canceled on him because apparently the very act of supporting a gay person violated a, "morals clause". Seriously, a former athlete does little more than offer praise to a fellow sports-player for being open about who they are and suffers consequences--yeah, don't tell me Collins coming out doesn't matter.

I want this to be a nation where both Tim Tebow can be looked up to for being open about who he is, and Jason Collins can be equally lauded for not hiding a big part of himself from society. As long as they both are respectful to others I see little problem with Tebow's faith or Collin's sexuality. I just think that instead of brushing either's actions off with an uncaring shrug, we should think carefully about how both men are looked up to now for very different reasons by potentially different people (although there could plenty of gay evangelical people out there who are fans of both now), and at the end of the day other than professional sports being a bunch of folk playing a game, it also is about people showing us how to be the best we can be--whether in terms of physical ability on the field, or in being good role models off the field.

I'm proud of Jason Collins, and his coming out is as important as all the other trailblazers in professional sports doing their part to make our games not just exciting to watch, but a reflection of what makes us as a society so wonderful. Namely, a diverse group of people working together toward a common goal--whether that goal is as big as striving for equal rights or as simple as getting a ball down the field/to the other side the court.

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