The Downbeat: The Social Change Edition

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Let's have a conversation.

Jason Collins, brother of former Jazzman Jarron Collins, became the first openly gay player in the NBA. I know for a lot of you that doesn't seem like a big deal but that is huge. First of all to have the guts to announce that is amazing. Good on him. Second of all, I know there is a lot of stigma out there, still, about homosexuality and what it is to be gay. I do not wish to delve into the religious implications (I'm not going to pull a Chris Broussard here) but I would like to relate a few stories with you about this.

As many know I was an actor for some time. I still participate in community theatre. In my theatre endeavors I have become close friends with a lot of people. Some straight, some gay, but, most importantly, all awesome. Theatre has seemed to be a place where there is little to no judgement about somebody's life. I loved that as I was an outcast in high school and it felt like a haven for a geek like me. For one of my friends it was a haven for him as well. For the reason that he was gay. He could be himself. He was not judged for it. He was judged however outside of it. The social construct of a high school during that time was brutal. The hierarchy of the school was jocks at the very top. They were brutal with him. They were mean. Why do I bring this up? What would have happened if he liked sports? Or better yet, what if sports was that same haven for all types of people that it's promised to be? There was Title IX for women but even then they are still discriminated at times. "You throw like a girl!" Sound familiar? Hopefully this is just another move in the right and correct direction of understanding, tolerance, and possibly acceptance of all people regardless of their background, ethnicity, or sexuality.

Another story. I was never an athlete in school. I loved sports, don't get me wrong, but because of my love of theatre I was accused at times of being gay. Isn't that interesting? The most hurtful thing a guy can say to another straight guy is that you're gay? What is wrong with our society? I avoided sports in high school. At least participating in them. Later on in life I found out I was pretty athletic through running, capoeira, and dance. I feel like I was robbed a little bit because of the insensitivity of other young men who were homophobic. I wasn't even gay but this is part of the conversation. Eliminating homophobic slurs. I sympathize for my friends who are gay. I can't imagine their walk in life. Whatever you believe, no one deserves to be an outcast. No one deserves to become a slur.

In all of this I hope to show this, there are gay fans out there. Gay players. Gay executives. Yet they hide a part of themselves because there are hateful people out there ready to ridicule and boycott. I'm glad and proud we know live in a society that we can accept these people and allow them to participate EQUALLY in these endeavors. I'm glad Jason Collins had the guts to come out and say that he was gay. I don't care what a person is whether they're gay, straight, or an alien. As long as they can bring a championship to the Utah Jazz I'll cheer them all the same.

Now I turn it to you all. I don't want the comment section to turn into the morality of homosexuality. That is not what this is about. It's about equal opportunity and treatment in the workplace and in the NBA. But at the same I want to continue what this has been about. That's a dialogue. An understanding. We're all adults here. Let's start a conversation. To close I know this hasn't been a Jazz infused Downbeat like normal. But times like these only happen so often. What are your thoughts? Share below. Be inquisitive. Be polite. Most importantly. Be human. Go Jazz!

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