NBA player Jason Collins was among the LGBT leaders honored by the Los Angeles City Council on Friday as the city kicked off a month of pride celebrations and events.
‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart,’ said Collins, who became a Los Angeles resident last year. ‘I’m very blessed to be here. I’m just inspired to be in such great company.’
Collins made history this spring with the Brooklyn Nets when he became the first player in his league to play while openly gay.
‘I hope that my actions will make it easier for the next person to come out.’
While accepting a proclamation from Mitch O’Farrell, one of the city’s two openly gay councilmen, Collins mentioned lesbian tennis legends Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King for coming out long before him.
He also mentioned such openly gay contemporaries as Robbie Rogers (soccer) and Brittney Griner (basketball).
‘More and more athletes over time will come out during their playing careers,’ Collins told the crowd. ‘I’m looking forward to the day when it isn’t a big deal. But we’re not there yet.’
He added: ‘I’m honored to be part of the conversation.’
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the start of the more than 90 minute ceremony that ‘our young people need heroes to pave the way … That’s what Jason Collins is doing in professional sports. He’s such an inspiration for LGBT youth across the country.’
Others honored during the city hall ceremony were former LA City Clerk June Lagmay, homeless youth advocate Carlos Sosa, Rabbi Lisa Edwards of Beth Chayim Chadashim, community leaders Mignon Moore and Elaine Harley, as well as Rabbi Denise Eger.
In addition to O’Farrell, also making presentations were openly gay councilman Mike Bonin, openly gay City Controller Ron Galperin and City Attorney Mike Feuer, an LGBT ally.
The city’s first openly gay councilman Bill Rosendahl, who retired last year and was responsible for launching the now annual event, was also present for the ceremony.