Washington Wizards center Jason Collins said a “huge weight has been lifted” from his shoulders after becoming the first athlete in a major U.S. team sport to come out as gay, and that he hopes other gay athletes “raise their hand” and follow his lead.
“I hope that every player makes a decision that leads to their own happiness,” Collins told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview Monday night.
Collins, who came out Monday as gay while still an active NBA player, broke one of the last remaining barriers in North America for gays and lesbians in era of constant political gains and ever-growing public acceptance.
At a news conference on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he told Collins that he “couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Obama said Collins showed the progress the United States has made in recognizing that gays and lesbians deserve full equality. He said they deserve “not just tolerance but recognition that they’re fully a part of the American family.”