NBJC Responds to Jason Collins Announcement
In response to today’s announcement from Washington Wizards center Jason Collins that he is gay, NBJC Executive Director Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks released the following statement:
I applaud Jason Collins for taking the bold step in naming his truth and celebrating his identity as a Black gay man. While many continue to give life to a narrative that pits the Black community and the Civil Rights movement against LGBT equality, Jason’s revelation helps validate the lived experience for the many Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals who live at the intersection of this problematic debate. As the first openly gay active male athlete in a major U.S. team sport, Jason’s powerful testimony has sent a message that members of the Black LGBT community occupy space in every aspect of human life, including the world of professional sports.
“When I first started in this business as a sports writer, I tried for years to get a job and no one would hire me because they didn’t want to send an openly gay guy into the locker room,” says ESPN/CNN columnist LZ Granderson. “That was back in the 90’s. Now there are gay folks everywhere, openly proud, and we’re valued for our talent.”
We are witnessing a historic time, a changing tide in our country on the issue of LGBT equality, and more and more we’re seeing Black people on the front lines of this progress. Because of the courage of people like LZ and Jason, a generation of young Black LGBT sports enthusiasts now have models of successful athletes and commentators who have been able to live their passion in tandem to their truth. More importantly, with these stories and the many others told by Black LGBT people, we can begin to move past the myth of the “black vs. gay” narrative and focus instead on the truth and power of being both black and gay.
I salute Jason for being brave enough to own his power and live life authentically.