Originally published on Savvy Auntie.
He has no regrets coming out and he wants to play [basketball] and we’ll see what happens next. That’s what he told me. We’ll see what happens, and I have his back. — Aunt Teri
In a first-person story in Sports Illustrated, NBA center Jason Collins, explained that he did not set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. It was just something he needed to do—“I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore.” Collins came to realize, after the recent Boston Marathon bombing, that things “can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully?”
The first family member that Collins confided in about the truth of his sexual identity was his Savvy Auntie: San Francisco Superior Court Judge Teri L. Jackson:
The first relative I came out to was my aunt Teri, a superior court judge in San Francisco. Her reaction surprised me. ‘I’ve known you were gay for years,’ she said. From that moment on I was comfortable in my own skin. In her presence I ignored my censor button for the first time. She gave me support. The relief I felt was a sweet release. Imagine you’re in the oven, baking. Some of us know and accept our sexuality right away and some need more time to cook. I should know—I baked for 33 years.
When speaking to reporters from the Civil Courthouse the afternoon of the story’s release, Jackson stated that Collins’s coming out was “not a big issue for us.” Instead, his coming out was a fitting revelation for a family that has been no stranger to the fight for equality and acceptance. Both of Jackson’s parents were civil rights activists, she the first African American woman to be appointed to San Francisco’s Superior Court bench:
I don’t think he looked at [coming out] as being a trailblazer, but something he had to do. My sister and I were the first to integrate our elementary school. I’m the first African American woman to be on the [San Francisco] bench, not because I’m a trailblazer, but because it’s right and needs to be done. I hope what Jason is doing will open the door for many others.
His Aunt Teri’s simple and unperturbed reaction to his coming out, helped Jason Collins find the comfort and strength he needed before opening up to the rest of the world about his sexuality. To learn more about how you can help your nieces and nephews come to terms with their own sexuality, click here.
Photo: Courtesy of jasoncollins34