Retired NBA player Jason Collins speaks to Will C. Wood students
On Tuesday January 10, 2017, the Connect Center team headed out to Will C. Wood Middle School for a historical event sponsored by local LGTBQ organizations and the California Endowment. Around 200 students gathered in the school’s cafeteria to hear from retired NBA player Jason Collins, the first NBA player to publicly come out as gay during his career. Collins shared his coming out story with students as he described the stigma he felt and the stories he had to construct to hide his authentic self. He described feelings of alienation, especially in spaces such as the locker room. Collins recalled his experiences with homophobia before and after being out.
Collins described a more authentic and happier quality of life post-coming out. After meeting in the school’s cafeteria, Collins met with the school’s Gay Straight Alliance Club, Love for the Win. Collins reflected on not being out at the time that Prop 8 and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) were being disputed and how he knew he would be directly impacted. The topic of hyper masculinity and sports was also discussed.
An important message Collins continually affirmed was that people do have the ability to change and sometimes your biggest opponents turn out to be your biggest allies. Collins shared he received more support than expected when he came out, and that he even received a call from President Obama himself.
For more information about student and family support services contact the Connect Center at (916) 643-2354 or the LGTBQ Support Services line at (916) 643-7997.