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Billy Bean: It’s Jason Collins’ story, but it’s our day

BY BILLY BEAN

When I awoke early Monday morning, there were 25 text messages waiting on my phone. My heart raced, wondering if something awful had happened in my family.

My friends were asking how I felt about the big news: NBA center Jason Collins, in an act of courage and grace, had come out as gay.

Over the past dozen years, I have answered the same question a thousand times. “When will an active male athlete in one of the four major professional sports come out?” Over and over, I said the same thing. “I’m hopeful it will happen soon, but I honestly don’t know.”

Since I, a retired major league ballplayer, came out as a gay man in late 1999 while living in Miami Beach, the world has changed dramatically. The military’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy was scrapped. Marriage equality advanced in the courts and at the ballot box. But no active professional athlete in baseball, basketball, football or hockey had announced they were gay.

Until now.

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