Current NBA and former Wolverine basketball player Jason Collins ’97, who came out as gay in April and became the first active openly gay male athlete in a major professional sport, participated in a Boston march for gay pride Saturday. On June 6, sporting a Boston Red Sox jersey with the number 98, Collins threw out the ceremonial first pitch to kick off the Red Sox-Texas Rangers baseball game at Fenway park.
In the May Sports Illustrated article declaring his homosexuality, Collins expressed his previously suppressed desire to participate in the gay pride parade last year, announced his intent to take part in this year’s parade alongside his roommate at Stanford University, Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, and described the deep impact the April Boston Bombings had on his decision to come out. Collins spent the first half of the 2012-2013 NBA season playing for the Boston Celtics.
The number 98 Collins wore at Fenway, as he did with the Celtics and the Washington Wizards throughout this season, honors Mathew Shepard, a gay student who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 1998. Since 1910, the first pitch of a baseball game has been used to highlight and celebrate the individual throwing the ball.
Collins discussed his thoughts about being a leader for the gay community in the end of the year issue of Big Red Sports Magazine.
“I’ve always been a ‘lead by example’ kind of guy. If something needs to be said, I’ll say it. Something needs to be done, I’ll be that guy that shows you that example, I’ll walk the walk.” Collins said.
A 12-year veteran in the NBA and now a free agent, Collins will look to sign for a team during the free agency period, which begins July 1.