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From NBA to White House, Jason Collins praised for being first openly gay male in US pro sports

From NBA to White House, Jason Collins praised for being first openly gay male in US pro sports

The public coming out of NBA player Jason Collins has been such big news Monday (29 April) that it got the attention of President Barack Obama and led the evening newscasts on the US broadcast networks.

Collins is the first male player in one of the four major US sports – basketball, football, baseball and hockey – to come out as gay while still an active player.

The 34-year-old NBA veteran received a call from Obama to ‘express his support’ and tell Collins that ‘he was impressed by his courage,’ reports Huffington Post.

First Lady Michelle Obama also weighed in posting this tweet: So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! -mo

Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had told reporters: ‘Here at the White House we view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution tha has been taking place in this country, and commend him for his courage and support him in this effort, and hope that his fans and his team support him going forward.’

Another former White House inhabitant, Bill Clinton, is also speaking out.

‘I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea’s classmate and friend at Stanford,’ Clinton said in a statement. ‘Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community. It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities.’

Clinton added: “For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason’s colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.’

NBA Commisioner David Stern also had supportive words in his statement: ‘We have known the Collins family since Jason and (his twin brother) Jarron joined the NBA in 2001 and they have been exemplary members of the NBA family. Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue.’

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was among the first to tweet support followed by Collins’ teammate Garrett Temple. Former top-ranked American tennis stars Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish also expressed support on Twitter.

Amid the outpouring of support for Collins has come some homophobic tweets as well.

Mike Wallace, a wide receiver for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins took to Twitter to say: ‘All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH (shakin’ my head) …’

He quickly deleted the tweet then offered this apology: ‘Never said anything was right or wrong. I just said I don’t understand!! Deeply sorry if anyone was offended.’

The Dolphins quickly condemned Wallace’s comment: ‘Mike’s comments do not reflect the views of the Miami Dolphins. We believe in a culture of inclusiveness and respect, and any statements to the contrary are in no way acceptable to our organization. We will address the entire team about our policy of inclusion and make sure they all understand the importance of respecting individual choices.’

Read more here:

Director Spike Lee, an NBA devotee, quickly tweeted support of Collins thanking him for his courage which he called ‘a alam dunk against HOMOPHOBIA.’

Lee then began to retweet some of the homophobic reactions from some of his followers.

Some samples:

‘Think about when they have to take showers or box someone out or post someone up. They not gone do it."

Lee replied: NOT TRUE

is a F*CKIN DISGRACE to all Black men, Who wants to post up a faggot?"

Lee replied: DUMB

You people are the reason a North American Boy/Man love association exist. Disgusting.

Lee replied: "IGNORANT.