Regardless of how you may personally feel about homosexuality and homosexuals in general, the reality is we are living in very transformative times.
The right to be openly and proudly gay has always been inalienable. The greater U.S. population accepting that right is a different story. In recent years however, more and more people have grown to accept openly gay individuals as colleagues, friends, and family members.
With the historic news released on Monday that current NBA player Jason Collins is gay, having openly admitted his sexual orientation to Sports Illustrated, a firestorm of debate has erupted across all media. In general, most people working in media, or working as high-level executives in leagues like the NFL and the NHL, have come out in support of Collins. Several professional athletes have also expressed their support as well.
One of those pro athletes that's in Collins' corner: Colts veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne. When asked about Collins' decision to come out by an ESPN producer, Wayne responded (via Tom James' Twitter handle):
Wayne was asked about Jason Collins. Says that doesn't know him but supports his decision. Says it wouldnt be a problem in Colts locker room— Tom James (@TribStarTJames) May 1, 2013
On a personal note, it's outstanding to see a veteran NFL star like Wayne come out in support of Collin's decision. It's also great to hear him say that if one of his teammates were gay, the team would have no issue.
Open-minded, all-inclusive leadership.
Also, it just makes good common sense.
I mean, forget how you feel personally for a moment: Do we fans honestly care if someone on the Colts roster is gay? As long as the guy can tackle, sack, punt, kick, catch, run, and/or throw, who cares who he likes to sleep with in his spare time?
None of my business. None of anyone's.
Also, if someone like Wayne is saying that a gay teammate wouldn't be a problem in the Colts locker room, that's a not-so-subtle message to anyone who would have a problem with it to basically STFU.
If you want me to explain why it's such a big deal for an active player like Collins to openly come out, I can only offer this: For years, I've watched close friends and family members privately express fear to me that if their loved ones or employers found out they were gay, they'd be retaliated against. For someone of my upbringing, I always found it disgusting that anyone would attack someone else simply for being gay, or black, or a woman, or a gay black woman.
With Collins admitting his sexual orientation, and with professional athletes like Wayne publicly supporting that decision, it makes it that much harder for bigots and homophobes to retaliate against people simply for being what they are.
In my mind, I call that progress.
Reggie Wayne was always high on my "Greatest Colts Of All Time" list. He just went up another notch.
For more on the Jason Collins story, visit OutSports.com. FYI- The editor there loves our blog, or so I'm told.