BOSTON — NBA veteran Jason Collins marched in his first ever gay pride parade in Boston. He was joined by Rep. Joe Kennedy III, his one-time roommate at Stanford University.
Collins wore a T-shirt that read #BeTrue when he joined thousands of marchers Saturday.
In April, Collins became the first active player in one of the four major U.S. professional sports leagues to come out as gay. He wrote in an article for Sports Illustrated that the decision to go public came when Kennedy marched in last year’s parade and Collins didn’t feel that he could join him.
“I told him how proud I was and jealous that he was able to walk in the pride parade last year,” Collins said Saturday, adding that when the opportunity came up this year and Kennedy invited him to march, it was a “no-brainer.”
Collins also said the Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that things can change in an instant, so he might as well live truthfully.
People thanked Collins along the parade route, saying he paved the way for other gay athletes to come out. Among the spectators was Lisa McManus of Burlington, an openly gay, lifelong athlete.
“Just to watch him do that in front of all those people was just amazing. It’s going to change the way sports are looked at for gay athletes,” McManus said.
Collins played for six teams in 12 seasons, most recently including the Washington Wizards. He becomes a free agent next month. Marching in the Boston pride parade capped several weeks in the spotlight.
“It’s been nothing but support from my former teammates, coaches, the entire NBA. You know, the past month, week, has been the happiest I’ve been in my entire life,” said Collins.
Also marching with Kennedy’s group was the first openly gay member of Congress, Barney Frank, who said he was proud to be walking with Collins.
“It’s very important for those last barriers to be broken and he did it in a very good way,” said Frank.
Kennedy said he was proud of Collins, but not surprised to see him “taking a step forward and shouldering a responsibility,” citing his reputation as a “workhorse” and a “fantastic teammate.”
With reporting from the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press