After making history by coming out on Monday as the first openly gay active male athlete in a major team sport, NBA player Jason Collins was greeted by a sea of support -- which included a phone call from President Obama himself.
Sources familiar with the exchange, which took place several hours after Collins’ piece was published online, confirmed the call to the Huffington Post, saying that Obama wanted to “express his support” for Collins and that “he was impressed by his courage.”
Collins, 34, who has played in the NBA for 12 seasons and is now a free agent, came out in an exclusive op-ed piece for Sports Illustrated, offering a number of reasons for coming out, which includes the late March Supreme Court hearings on Prop 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act, a policy Obama denounced and called unconstitutional in February 2011.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday, “We view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country.”
And first lady Michelle Obama echoed both her husband's and Carney’s thoughts about Collins on Twitter, tweeting, “So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! – mo”
In his coming out essay, Collins mentioned his longtime friend and former college roommate, Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., who openly supported the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community last year when he marched in Boston’s gay pride parade, saying that Kennedy’s public support for the LGBT community filled him with envy and that he, too, wants to “march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding.”
Kennedy tweeted on Monday, “I’ve always been proud to call [Collins] a friend, and I’m even prouder to stand with him today.”
(h/t The Huffington Post)