In the Arena

Fresh Air

I'm exhilarated by the news that Jason Collins, who plays professional basketball for the Washington Wizards, has come out of the closet.

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I’m exhilarated by the news that Jason Collins, who plays professional basketball for the Washington Wizards, has come out of the closet.

Andrew Sullivan, who has been such a stalwart and brilliant leader on this issue, quotes an absolutely crucial part of Collins’ coming out article:

No one wants to live in fear. I’ve always been scared of saying the wrong thing. I don’t sleep well. I never have. But each time I tell another person, I feel stronger and sleep a little more soundly.

That is the crucial element for me, the reason why I’m exhilarated: the anguish that our gay brothers and sisters have felt has been not only a plague on their lives, but an idiotic toll on the sum of human happiness. There have been too many sleepless nights, too many business ideas not pursued, athletic dreams deferred, Friday nights–no,whole lives–spent in isolation. There are those who will say that the creative anguish helped contribute to the gay world’s amazing impact on the arts, and there is some truth to that. Just look at what 5000 years pariahdom did for the Jews! But this will be a small price to pay for all the gay doctors and nurses, lawyers, firefighters, bus drivers and certified public accountants who no longer have to lie–keeping secrets requires a lot of energy–and who will be able to pursue happiness without having to look over their shoulders. Jason Collins has smashed down one of the closet’s strongest doors. This great exhalation, the ability to breathe easier, is something to celebrate, indeed.

And if you’ll permit me a slightly tortured segue: I believe that the same principle will hold if Obamacare is successfully enacted. The great exhale isn’t limited to those with pre-existing medical conditions. There are millions of self-employed individuals who have been oppressed by their general lack of market power when it comes to health insurance, their inability to get the same sort or rates and plans that employees of, say, Time-Warner do. There are millions more, trapped in stultifying jobs, who would  take the risk and become entrepreneurs–who would finally give that life-long dream of a new business a try–if they had the ability to get reliable, reasonably-priced health insurance outside of their workplace. The amount of creativity that could be unleashed, the potential burst of economic activity that may result next January isn’t talked about very often, because it can’t be quantified. But I suspect it will be real and an utter relief to millions of Americans.

For now, though, thanks to Jason Collins for bringing us all a step closer to being able to breathe free.

29 comments
fitty_three
fitty_three

Now, if the GOP can just dig a little deeper and actually realize that they need to revise their approach to Black Americans.  after all, there is the issue of the deaths of some 2,000,000 to 7,000,000 who were killed here doing involuntary service to their country.

I think it's time.

sacredh
sacredh

We live in a time of great change. I am so glad I got to see so many of the changes that I thought I'd never live to see.

drudown
drudown

Society is like a river dividing up into several arms. Divided between the arms, the inhabitants argue for most of their lives as to which constitutes the main river. It is inspiring to see people from the LGBT community making their rightful claim for equal rights, as the river flows onward, with no reprieve in sight. 

fitty_three
fitty_three

Wonder how many GOP heads will explode when a NASCAR driver comes out.

sacredh
sacredh

Great article Joe. Kudos.

sacredh
sacredh

Here's something I haven't heard mentioned anywhere: The Supreme Court hasn't ruled on same-sex marriage yet. Is it possible that this decision to come out by Collins (and all of the positive feedback) will affect the ruling?

Tero
Tero

Excellent article Joe! Hopefully the hateful trolls will not descend on this comment thread.

tommyudo
tommyudo

History will look at Jason Collins as a trail blazer. However, there is a tremendous amount of bigotry and ignorance among your typical male sports fan, many of whom are nonentities and failures in their own lives.  For a short while  gay athletes like Collins  who come out will be browbeaten from the stands, much like Jackie Robinson was. All one has to do is go to ESPN.com today and see these cretins with their sophomoric and moronic double entendres trying to audition for SNL. With so many teenagers being bullied and committing suicide because of being gay, with Collins coming out, and later other athletes, these teenagers will have role models. Before you know it, most younger sports fans won’t even care about the sexual orientation of their favorite player.

destor23
destor23

I have been downright mean to you at times, Joe.  But thank you for perfectly summing up that what we have done to our fellow citizens has, indeed, amount to, "an idiotic toll on the sum of human happiness."  Well said.

fitty_three
fitty_three

Maybe Joe can lead the way.

...or not.

fitty_three
fitty_three

Or, possibly, the GOP can be considered the sewer outfall on the right bank over there.  

No trashrack.

sacredh
sacredh

He doesn't stand a chance with the baggers in the primaries. They'll crucify him for being too liberal.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@sacredh

I will however admit that I'm having a bit of humor at his expense, and publicly acknowledge that he's turned out to be one of the best Goopers out there.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@sacredh  

I did. But a rendering plant bought him for $50, so they're taking care of it.

sacredh
sacredh

I don't want to seem rude, but did you see GreenPeace trying to roll him back into the ocean?

drudown
drudown

@sacredh 

"Chris Christie!?? We're going to need a bigger boat."

/s/ Capt. Stubing

fitty_three
fitty_three

@sacredh  

Including trouser species is fine.  Doesn't change the argument.

sacredh
sacredh

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?