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File | Associated Press

Jason Collins: Kicking open the closet door

This was going to happen sooner than later. And kudos and hurrah.

Jason Collins says he didn't want to be "the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying 'I'm different.'" If he had his way, he says, someone would have done it a long time ago.

"Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand," he goes on.

And down goes the last bastion of secrecy regarding this, with a very loud crash. And it's about time. The day when a gay person felt constrained by society to hide the very essence of who he or she was belongs to an era we are well shut of -- even if the vestiges of that era are evident in the continuing notion, in some quarters, that gay people shouldn't be equal in the eyes of the law.

Well, phooey on that. That attitude belongs to that aforementioned, and benighted, era. It belongs to the days of segregated bathrooms and lunch counters and water fountains, and the lie that was separate-but-equal. It belongs in the same dustbin of history as all those "Colored" and "White" signs we now find so sadly anachronistic.

Professional sports was pretty much the last stand for similar attitudes toward gays. Although a handful of athletes made their sexual orientation public after their careers were done (John Amaechi, the NFL's Dave Kopay, etc.), Collins is the first to publicly come out while still an active player.

For that, and for the courage it took, he deserves our respect.

And for those who say "Nobody cares if he's gay, so why is he making an issue of it?", my only response is this:

Because a lot of other people made an issue of it first.

Ben Smith's blog.