A recent issue of the widely-read award winning sports publication Sports Illustrated, dated May 6, 2013, carried an exclusive interview with NBA center, Jason Collins, that caused a bit of a shock in some corners with its bold headline, ‘The Gay Athlete.’ By the time the issue hit newsstands, however, most of the nation had already heard of the revelation or read Collin’s personal story on the SI website a week earlier on April 29. From the first lines of the interview, it was apparent this was someone who was now bold enough to love and accept himself for who he was, with this simple declaration, “I’m a 34 year old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” The 7-foot tall National Basketball Association veteran knew that this revelation would have an unforeseen impact on not only his life but the lives of generations of pro-athletes to come, for before 2013 not a single male professional athlete player had announced his decision to live his life freely and openly while still being an active player. (*) His story is one of triumph and tribulation, victory and defeat, love and loss, which he graces with an unusual amount of resilience and determination, aiming to better his self and the world around him. What got him to where he is today was the sheer talent he possesses and his aggressiveness on the basketball court, but his decision to speak out now and declare that there’s nothing wrong with being gay – that it shouldn’t play a role in determining the future happiness of one’s life – will undoubtedly secure a place for him in Athletic history that he once never could have dreamed of.
What Jason Collins describes as his “journey of self-discovery” began 34 years ago in a hospital in a Los Angeles, California suburb on December 2, 1978, a date he shared with his twin brother Jarron, born just 8 minutes later. As the slightly elder of the two twin brothers, Jason grew up being protective of his younger sibling. Theirs was a close-knit family, but as the brothers grew into their preteen years, Jason couldn’t help but notice there was something significantly different between him and Jarron. As a 12 year-old, Jason felt strange for not identifying with his brother’s attraction to girls. Confused and probably a little ashamed, Jason kept this secret to himself and battled with his natural urges all throughout his high school tenure. He occupied his time by dedicating himself to playing the sport of basketball, a field in which he and his brother both excelled with their team twice making it to State Championships. The success the Collins’ talent brought them followed them into college at Stanford University where they attended from 1997-2001 and played multiple seasons in the NCAA Men’s Division Basketball Championship, Jason even once making it to the “Final Four”. Whilst attending Stanford, he met and developed a close relationship with the 6’5 future WNBA-star, Carolyn Moos. Their relationship lasted a total of eight years and eventually they were engaged to be married. Due to Jason’s recent revelation, media reports have portrayed Moos as the bitter bride who Collins “left at the altar” (as New York Daily News put it), but nothing could in fact be further from the truth. “I care about him tremendously and only want what’s best for him,” says Moos. “I want Jason to be happy for a lifetime and stay true to who he really is, inside and out.” Not only does she show no bitterness toward the man she spent eight years of her life with, she is actually quite empathetic towards his situation: “Every morning he woke up and put on a mask for 33 years. That’s unbelievable to me… I just can’t imagine going through 33 years of your life and denying yourself out of fear.” Despite their relationship having ended abruptly in 2009, it’s apparent from her statements that from Moos, Collins will always have unconditional love and support. Collins, without naming names, briefly referenced his time with Moos in the Sports Illustrated issue, saying that “when I was younger, I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I need to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, when I knew it was blue.” Those who have never personally battled through the inner struggle and self-denials that Collins references often find it easy to point fingers, but each of those who judge in a way share responsibility for forcing Collins into this situation in the first place. Were it not for society demonizing homosexuals and homosexuality as being deviant in nature, or as a “sickness” to be cured in order to be saved from eternal damnation, untold numbers of gay and lesbian men and women would not be pressured into bearing the burden of conforming to accepted convention. The signal sent by society, including both familial and friendly relations, is that one will be less loved if not completely disowned if they do not live up to the traditionally held notions of “masculinity” for men and “femininity” for women. With such stigmas attached the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities, is it any wonder that some people (many well-known preachers come to mind) learn to adapt by “playing it straight”? “It takes an enormous amount of energy to guard such a big secret,” Collins explains. “I’ve endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie. I was certain my whole world would fall apart if anyone knew.”
In 2001, Jason Collins was drafted 18th overall as part of the annual National Basketball Association Draft. His brother Jarron was drafted that year to the Utah Jazz team as well. Jason initially was selected to play for the Houston Rockets, but was shortly after traded to the New Jersey Nets who he remained playing with for a total of 7 seasons. He helped the Nets reach the Finals for their very first time in 2002, and in 2003 became their starting player. Throughout his career he’s played for the Nets, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Minnesota Timber wolves, the Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics, and most recently the Washington Wizards; all in all making it to a career-total of nine different playoffs. But despite such a fruitful career, Jason Collins still felt unfulfilled. Suppressing and not fully embracing the man he was began to eat away at him inside, and he knew that now, at the age of 33, it was time to confide in someone the innermost secret he’d been keeping all those years. That person was his close Aunt Teri, who serves as a federal justice of the court in the city of San Francisco. Oddly enough, Aunt Teri had sensed it all along, saying, “I’ve known you were gay for years.” Her reaction of love and acceptance was a huge relief for Collins, who described that moment as being the first time in his life he’d ever felt truly comfortable in his own skin. “Imagine you’re in an oven baking,” explained Collins. “Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away, and some need more time to cook – I should know – I baked for 33 years.” This made him realize that being gay really didn’t change who he was as a person. He described this sudden realization as making him feel whole for the first time. He “still had the same sense of humor; I still had the same mannerisms and my friends still had my back.”
Before he decided to share this revelation with the world, there were a few more people he needed to confide in first. He and twin brother Jarron had been almost inseparable from the womb, and Jason decided it was finally time to be fully honest with his brother. Upon hearing his brother tell him that he was gay and that he’d kept it hidden from him for years, Jarron was absolutely stunned – he’d not once suspected in over 34 years of brotherhood that Jason was anything other than heterosexual. Nevertheless, Jarron showed nothing but unconditional love and support for his slightly-elder brother. “For the first time in our lives,” said Jason, “he wanted to step in and protect me.” His maternal grandmother similarly reacted with a desire to protect her grandson from the hatred and cruelty of the world, something she’d witnessed a great deal of in her day. According to Jason, “She grew up in rural Louisiana and witnessed the horrors of segregation. During the civil rights movement, she saw great bravery play out amid the ugliest aspects of humanity. She worries that I am opening myself up to prejudice and hatred. I explained to her… my coming out was preemptive. I shouldn’t have to live under the threat of being outed. The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ’s.” Looking back at the struggles of her generation, he is thankful to all those brave Civil Rights heroes and those who came before him to pave the road for his being able to live up to his potential and shine as brightly as he does. He has always felt pride in his race and embraced it as one of many aspects of himself, something he has struggled to similarly do with his sexual orientation up to this point. “I celebrate being an African American and the hardships of the past that still resonate today. But I don’t let my race define me any more than I want my sexual orientation to. I don’t want to be labeled, and I can’t let someone else’s label define me.” Sharing what was once a painful secret with those who are most near and dear to his heart proved in the end to be the right decision. “If you had asked me five years ago if I was gay I would’ve flat-out lied to you and denied it,” he says. But the unyielding love and support he received from family and friends, unchallenged by the fact that he happens to be gay, demonstrated to him that it was okay to be who he was – No longer would he have to hide in the shadows.
As a means of keeping his team’s focus on the game of basketball instead of a side-issue that would distract from the overall game (media coverage would certainly play a role in that), Collins made a decision to wait until after the 2012 Season was over before announcing his decision to come out. He did make one small but profoundly meaningful gesture to symbolize solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community when he chose no. 98 as the number to be displayed on the back of the jerseys he wore when playing as part of the Celtics and the Wizards. He explained, “The number has great significance to the gay community. One of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes occurred in 1998. Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was kidnapped, tortured and lashed to a prairie fence. He died four days after he was finally found.” Indeed, it was the extremity of the violence carried out on Matthew Shepard’s body, covered in blood from head to toe and found hanging from a wooden fence, which finally focused international attention to the constant threat gay people deal with when they choose to live their lives openly. Is it any wonder why some people who struggle with being gay or lesbian would seemingly do anything not to be? Violence such as this only adds to why some must constantly live in fear of being discovered or “outed”. What was done to Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming in the early morning hours of October 7, 1998 was not just an attack on one man; it was an attack on anyone who, like Matthew, did not fit into the sexual “norms” of society and are perceived as defying deeply-established rules of convention.
“I’m glad I’m coming out in 2013 instead of 2003,” explained Collins, taking note of the significant shift in public attitudes towards gays and lesbians that has occurred in a single decade. (**) He is “impressed with the straight pro-athletes who have spoken up so far”, citing Kris Kluwe and Brendan Ayanbadejo as notable examples. Indeed, the entire list of famous and influential people offering Collins their words of praise and support is quite extensive, and ranges from popular celebrities, talented athletes, and respected politicians. Some of the most notable names include Kobe Bryant (who tweeted, “Proud of Jason Collins. Don’t suffocate who u r because of the ignorance of others.”) (^), Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Martell Webster, former President Bill Clinton & daughter Chelsea, former Congressman Ted Kennedy III, Dwayne Wade, Carl Malone, LeBron James, Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, former Green Day Packer LeRoy Butler (^*), Bruce Bowens, Bill Simmons, filmmaker Spike Lee, President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama, Steven Nash, Damian Wilkins and Barron Davis. It’s significant to note that had the opposite happened and this many well-respected African American celebrities, athletes and politicians instead voiced disapproval instead of support for Jason Collins’s decision to live his life open, unafraid and unashamed, there would undoubtedly be a barrage of media reports and publications in all the mainstream press syndicates discussing what they perceive as the “inherent homophobia” within the Black community. This media contraption has been around since at least 2008, when conservative media figures attempted to pit the LGBT Community against the African American voting-bloc in California – a narrative which we now know was part of a strategic plan by anti-gay evangelical organizations. The notion that African Americans are somehow more homophobic than the entire nation at large is as absurd as it is entirely fabricated. There has never been any substantial evidence of this having been the case, nor has there ever been a shortage of white people, men in particular, spreading virulent anti-gay messages of hate to their supposed “brethren under Christ”. Homophobia in a certain way goes hand in hand with sexism as an integral part of the white European colonialists’ overall idea of what true masculinity is. Of course there are homophobic Black people, as there are homophobic Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Arabs, etc. (By the same token, there are plenty of white LGBT people who hold the same racist attitudes as their heterosexual counterparts!) But to suggest that any group of people, specifically a people of color, have a lock on homophobia should be called out for what it is – an attempt on the part of some members of the white community to absolve themselves of having played such a prominent role in permeating so many prejudices of all sorts, and this is not exclusive to one ideology, conservative or liberal. In short, don’t give any credence to incessant news coverage insisting that Black or Latino people have an unusual amount of homophobia running uniquely rampant in their respective cultures. Perhaps we could ask Matthew Shepard just how “loving” and “accepting” white people are of people like him, had he not been savagely beaten to a bloody pulp and left to drown in his own blood as he suffered excruciating pain and suffering as he hung from that wooden fence, all at the hands of two white thugs in Laramie, Wyoming.
Of course, not everyone was as thrilled or even supportive of Jason Collins’s new-found liberation. Within hours of the Sports Illustrated interview with Collins appearing online, NFL player and wide-receiver for the Miami Dolphins, Mike Wallace, sent out a tweet to his followers which read, “All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH…” After an apparent albeit minor backlash, he removed the tweet from his Twitter page, instead replacing it with “Never said anything was right or wrong I just said I don’t understand!! Deeply sorry for anyone that I offended.” He is right about one thing; he truly doesn’t understand. That may seem understandable, give that Wallace is a heterosexual man. Still, one must wonder why it is so hard to understand that, in the same way a heterosexual cannot force himself to be attracted to members of the same sex, those of us who are attracted to people of the same gender cannot force ourselves to be attracted to members of the opposite sex. No amount of “religious therapy” is ever going to change that. (Who on earth would “choose” to be attracted to people of the same sex anyway, given the ridicule and alienation that comes along with it?) But Wallace was not alone in tweeting his apprehensions about being in the presence of an “out” homosexual. Larry Johnson, former NFL player for the New York Knicks, posted on his twitter an all-too familiar argument, one that has often been used as justification for excluding gays from athletic participation. It read: “I don’t [know] Jason Collins personally but he seems like a great guy. Me personally gay men in the locker room would make me uncomfortable.” But of course, there’s always the option of people who share Johnson’s views going and finding a different profession, that is if they are so “uncomfortable” taking public showers because they believe themselves irresistible to every gay man (Chances are they’ve showered with gay men before whether they knew it or not). To this point, sports columnist Kelly Dwyer shared a cleverly sarcastic tweet on his twitter which read, “[It’s] worth pointing out that many of us have shared locker rooms w/ Jason Collins, and somehow he didn’t come on to us. – shocking, I know.” Jason Collins addressed this very concern himself in the Sports Illustrated article, saying that “the biggest concern seems to be that gay players will behave unprofessionally in the locker room. Believe me; I’ve taken plenty of showers in my 12 seasons. My behavior wasn’t an issue before, and it won’t be one now. My conduct won’t change.”
The most far-reaching expression of public opposition towards Collins’s coming out came surprisingly not on the Christian Broadcasting Network, but on an entertainment show called “Outside the Lines” which airs on ESPN. During a the live broadcast, the channel’s NBA reporter and self-described “born-again Christian”, Chris Broussard, took the unenviable role of raining on what seemed up until then to be a celebratory parade. A discussion with an openly gay sports columnist, LZ Anderson, who had joined the program by phone, transformed into a fiery Sunday morning sermon complete with biblical references and conjured-up images of sinners burning in hell for eternity (although he did assure the audience that LZ is his “personal friend” with whom he’s shared many an afternoon lunch with, and has had “good conversations” and “good laughs” with). I suppose it is to his credit that he at least tried not to sound too hypocritical, as is often the case, by being selective of which sins he deems worthy of condemnation and which ones are not. He says he thinks homosexuality is a sin “as I think all sex outside marriage between a man and a woman is…” However, it isn’t easy to recall a time when he or any other committed evangelical person for that matter appeared similarly on a sports television entertainment program, condemning every player who engages in sex outside of marriage as walking in “open rebellion” to God. Had Broussard simply stopped there, perhaps it could be said that there was nothing inflammatory about his appearance on the show, and that he was only respectfully stating his opinion. He didn’t stop there, however. He went on to denounce Jason Collins as not being a “true Christian”, a statement that has no place on a Sports entertainment TV program. Paraphrasing the Holy Bible, Broussard lectured that “if you’re openly living that type of life-style then the bible says you know by their fruits. It says that’s a sin, and if you’re openly living in sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality – adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals – whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ, and so I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the bible would characterize him as a Christian.” For those who would take this as a personal attack on people who don’t fall in line with his personal view of Christianity, he goes on to school his audience on what “true tolerance” is. “There are a lot of Christians in the NBA… They don’t want to be viewed or called bigoted or intolerant and things like that… Just like I may tolerate someone whose life-style I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs and disagree with my beliefs and my life-style. But true tolerance and acceptance is being able to… not criticize each other and call each other names.” Of his apparent “friendship” with openly gay LZ, who he basically just described as a walking load of sin, he says, “I don’t criticize him. He doesn’t criticize me and call me a bigot; call me ignorant; call me intolerant.” While LZ may not, this blogger definitely will. Although he made a valid attempt at appearing to sound reasonable, this line of comparison is a complete crock of bullshit. Every individual and every society clearly does have to draw a line between what can and cannot be tolerated. Otherwise, all forms of hate speech and hateful actions would be tolerated, even if they are committed by someone who simply would not “tolerate” someone else. It is our collective sense of morality that must decide and dictate where that line should be drawn. It is best to ask ourselves, “Is an individual or group’s actions hurting anybody other than themselves?” If the answer to that question is yes, then clearly that is something which shouldn’t be tolerated. On the other hand, Jason Collins, or anyone else for that matter, having intimate relations with another consenting adult doesn’t have any negative impact on anyone else’s life whatsoever, and certainly does not constitute a threat. But when Broussard and his religious ilk declare peoples’ acts of loves and/or consensual enjoyment to be “open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ”, worthy of being damned to the pits of a never-ending hell for all eternity, it does hurt people in ways that are either not known about or not cared about. It can even impact public policy. There is a reason that so many teens and preteens, upon discovering their impulsive attraction to members of the same gender, often resort to suicide. When someone is constantly bombarded with messages communicating to them that they are full of sin and must change in order to be right with the Almighty God, or to be accepted by members of their Church organization including their own family, the realization that they cannot change their “sinful condition” eventually settles in and fills them with unspeakable grief. Feeling that they are incapable of living a normal and happy life, they see an unyielding hard and lonely road ahead of them, and so they exercise complete control the only way human beings know how – by ending their very own existence. This reality is the real reason why Jason Collins’s brave stance is so importantly crucial. His very existence and the person he is today sends a clear message to kids everywhere struggling to come to terms with their sexuality. He signifies the hope of a bright future they can identify with.
Broussard is far from being alone in his amount of sheer hypocrisy when it comes to citing biblical text. Evangelicals of all stripes point mainly to two verses from the Bible’s book of Leviticus to bolster their views, citing them as the ultimate repudiation of homosexuality and the inherent evil that lies therein. The lines essentially say in no unclear terms that “if a man also lies with mankind, as he lieth with a woman; both of them have committed an abomination.” (Lev. 18: 22; 20: 13) Being as it may, I think it’s only fair that we also list some of the other numerous offenses to the Almighty that are written in the Holy book. Compare the public outrage and vocal condemnation of those guilty of having committed these “sins” with the religious outrage over homosexuality. How often, for example, have we heard these “holy” men mention that, in that very same book of Leviticus, in the chapter following the oft-quoted “man with man” verse there is a stark warning not to “make baldness upon [one’s] head, neither shall [one] shave off the corner of their beard.” (Is that God’s way of saying he would not be a fan of Vin Diesel perhaps?) (Lev. 21: 5) Or how about the penalty one should receive for cursing at his or her mother or father? The Bible states the punishment should be no less than execution. (Lev. 20: 9) As for the “daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by being the whore… she shall be burnt with fire.” (Lev. 21: 9) Ouch! Apparently grooming is another thing not looked upon favorably in the bible, for “ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.” (Lev. 19: 27) Tattoos are also expressly forbidden (19: 28), as is the eating of pork (11: 7), and especially the eating of oysters. Oysters “shall be an abomination to you.” (11: 10) If these rules seem to be crossing the line in your mind, they are nothing compared to the harshness regarding who is eligible for priesthood, that is those deemed worthy of delivering God’s wonderful message. Leviticus 21: 17-23 states: “A blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose or anything superfluous… or a man that is broken-hearted or crooked backed, or a dwarf; or hath a blemish in his eye or be scurvy, or scabbed, or his stones broken… [He] shall not come nigh unto the altar; because he hath a blemish; that he profanes not my sanctuaries: for I the Lord do not sanctify.” There you have it, folks. If you have any sort of physical impairment whatsoever, you just aren’t fit to preach God’s word. And just when one thinks it can’t get worse, it most certainly can. Anyone who just so happens to have been born a bastard, though no fault of their own, is apparently not welcome at church according to the scripture. Deuteronomy 23: 2 states that “for a bitched shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” These are but a few of many contradictions in the bible, which should at least serve as a red flag before anyone decides to take every word of it literally. Even the most evangelical biblical “adherents” to the written text don’t follow this strict orthodoxy as they claim, for they are completely silent when it comes to the passages just raised. The time is long past due for people to quit hiding behind the bible as a means of justifying and excusing their feelings of bigotry and animosity.
For its part, the ESPN cable network showed little concern over the fact that one of their anchors, during a program that is supposed to be about sports, was seemingly channeling one of insidious preacher Pat Robertson’s unintentionally hilarious rants from an episode of CBN’s “700 Club”. Speaking of Pat Robertson – the former minister and son of former Southern ‘Dixiecrat’ Senator Absalom Will Robertson (famous for opposing integration in the South until the end of his career in 1966) – he offered Broussard praise for what he described as his “brave” stance against Collins. Furthermore, he encouraged ESPN to “man up” and “support their guy”, a suggestion to which they apparently obliged. Other evangelicals were quick to jump on board the Broussard-Robertson train wagon, such as “Liberty Counsel” spokesperson and right-wing radical Matt Barber, who sent out this asinine tweet: “When will the first brave athlete ‘come out’ & acknowledge that he & his mother hook up? We need a role model for incestuous kids! Courage!” This statement is ridiculous enough without any additional commentary. But for a moment, let’s pretend this absurdity dignifies a response. The most probable answer to his question is that there are NOT any professional athletes having consensual sex with their mother!! Such thoughts and fantasies are reserved for irrationally crazed minds like Barber’s.
Not receiving nearly as much media attention were some of the other, more disturbing, threatening messages posted to Twitter about Jason Collins. One poster, after wishing that Collins be given the “death penalty”, wondered how one could possibly be a “7 foot gay dude”. Of course, anyone with a brain knows that sexuality knows no physical type, or so I thought. Apparently this view is quite commonly-held among some members of society, for just the other day I heard a man offhandedly remark to me, “Who would have thought that the first openly gay male athlete would be a 7-foot tall black guy?!” This was not said in jest. He was genuinely perplexed by the fact that there are gay people out there who don’t fit into the narrow stereotypical image that he and society have designed. Attitudes and perceptions such as this are precisely the reason why Collins knew in his heart his coming out would be of such historical consequence to not only sports, but society and culture in general. “I go against the gay stereotype,” he remarked, “which is why I think a lot of players will be shocked: ‘That guy is gay?’” He also noted that perhaps one of the reasons he’s always been so aggressive on the court is that subconsciously he is trying to prove that being gay does not mean one must be “soft” as people perceive.
Fortunately, Collins discovered that he’d made the right decision by choosing to disregard negative world opinion. As he said in a sit-down interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders… I know that I, right now, am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.” In the Sport Illustrated article, he spoke of tussling back-and-forth over whether he was making the right decision by opening himself up to such public scrutiny and honestly declaring he was a gay athlete in the world of sports. “I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.” In the end he knew that it would be more difficult to bear the burden of living a lie than it would be to live his life openly. “No one wants to live in fear,” he explained. “I don’t sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and I sleep a little more soundly.” The most important line he shared in the magazine, however, was the one containing those six words that many of us have always known to be true but still needed to hear someone like Jason Collins say, “Being gay is not a choice.” Furthermore, he is speaking for many more people than just himself when he says that being gay or lesbian is “a tough road and at times the lonely road”, a sentiment with which this blogger wholeheartedly agrees.
* Many of the reports in the media have declared Collins the “first major pro-athlete to announce he is gay” which is an inaccurate statement. There have been women pros that have struggled with their sexuality and then broke barriers by embracing it. Due to the sexist nature of our society, women in sports do not receive the amount of attention that men do. For a more comprehensive list, see http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/04/jason-collins-not-first-out-gay-pro-athlete.
** It’s been only slightly more than two presidential elections in 2004 that the Republican Presidential Nominee, George W. Bush, and the entire Republican Party were able to win quite comfortably in the elections that took place nationwide, by running largely on an overt anti-gay marriage platform.
^ Yes, I am aware of the fact that Kobe Bryant was once fined $100,000 for calling a referee a faggot in 2011. But let’s just say that, unlike many famous people who give a half-hearted apology and move on, Bryant actually took the time to really learn from his mistake. He learned about how words like “faggot” and “queer” really do hurt and really do matter, and has since then worked to make amends and has become an LGBT ally.
^* LeRoy Butler was apparently disinvited from a speaking event at a church in Wisconsin because of his message of support for Jason Collins.