Jason Collins, the NBA star who came out as gay last week, to a huge amount of media attention, and became the first openly gay player in a US major team sport, is to receive a courage award from a leading gay-straight alliance organisation.
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 Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) on Thursday announced that it was to honour Collins with the award for courage.
GLSEN’s executive director, Eliza Byard, said: “Jason’s actions also send another clear message to young people that sexual orientation can no longer be the standard to unfairly judge an athlete’s ability or potential.”
“Joining the ranks of trailblazers like Martina Navratilova, Greg Louganis, Wade Davis and Brittney Griner, we have witnessed another obstacle overcome in sports.”
Collins will be honoured by GLSEN at its 20 May Respect Awards in New York.
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.