A new poll has revealed that over two thirds of Americans support NBA star Jason Collins’ decision to come out as gay last week.
Collins last Monday spoke about his sexuality, confirming he is gay in an article in Sports Illustrated magazine. He said: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
The Washington Post poll has found that, in becoming the first openly gay major team sports player, Collins was met with 68% support of the US population, with just 23% opposed.
The poll found that just 45% of those who identified as “very conservative” supported the decision with 47% opposed to it, and those opposed to equal marriage, at 41% for and 50% against.
“Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined all this – the response,” Collins told the Washington Post. “You’re always thinking, ‘I’m going to make this happen in my own words, on my own terms, and I’ll deal with the repercussions and consequences.’ And it turns out the country was really ready for something like this. It’s been remarkable.”
Fairily balanced in terms of gender, 69% of Women supported Collins’ decision, compared with 67% of men. 58% of senior citizens, and 63% of non college graduates supported him.
The largest groups which supported Collins were those who identified as Democrats, were college graduates, or were under 30 years of age. 81% of each of those groups supported his decision to reveal his sexuality. 52% of Republicans supported it.
90% of equal marriage supporters were in favour of the 34-year-old’s decision to come out, and 7% were opposed. The new poll also found that 66% of African American, and 70% of white respondents supported Collins, and half of each group supported him “strongly”.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted May 1 to 5 among a random national sample of 1,008 adults. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points
Despite some abusive messages, Collins received thousands of messages of support, including from President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, his teammates, coaches, the Commissioner of the NBA, and countless others.
In his first interview since coming out as gay, Collins said he hoped other professional athletes will follow his lead, and he later revealed that he wore the number 98 jersey in a silent gesture of solidarity with the gay community.