National News

Apr 30, 2013 2:20 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

NBA player gay announcement could help others, says local supporter

It's a first for major pro-sports. An active NBA-pro player has come out publicly and said he is gay. Washington Wizards center Jason Collins, 34, came out on Monday in an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated. Other pro athletes have said they were gay after their careers were over, but Collins is still actively playing in the NBA. Some local gay and lesbian supporters said it is a major game changer for their community.

Moises Torreblanca, president of the Central Coast Chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Gays and Lesbians) said, "the climate's right for right now. I mean, times have changed."

Torreblanca said 12-year veteran Collins took a big step not only for himself, but also for the gay community.

"Little boys and little girls, like, they see an athlete that they love, because you know like everyone thinks of Michael Jordan, or think of whatever athlete, [and say], 'oh I want to be like that', and if they find out, he just happens to be gay, but I'm also gay, I can do it too," said Torreblanca.

In the Sports Illustrated article, Collins, who's height is 7-feet, said, "It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret."

Torreblanca, who is also a graduate from Cal Poly, said he knows that feeling. He said, like Collins, he credits his coming out to the backing of support from family and friends.

"For him to come out actively as he's playing, shows that he can trust who's he around, can be himself, and it's not gonna bother him if they don't accept him or not," said Torreblanca.

The PFLAG president said he doesn't necessarily think more pro-athletes who are in the closet will not come out, but said Collins' bravery to choose to certaily chips away at the stigma of gay players in any sport.

While there has been an outpouring of support for Collins, especially on social media, there are also some who disapprove. ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard said shortly after Collins' announcement that he wouldn't characterize Collins as a Christian.

Collins said in his Sports Illustrated article that he is glad he can stop hiding, and he can now refocus on his 13th NBA season.

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