Courage should be defined by the courageous

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Whatever the circumstances that inspired (hopefully not forced) veteran NBA center Jason Collins to publicly announce in a well-written Sports Illustrated essay this week that he is gay should be commended and not lost in a sea of public debate. In the He-Man boys club of professional sports, Collins, who at 7 feet tall and 255 pounds has stood in the trenches with everyone from Shaquille O’Neal to Dwight Howard, stood the tallest of them all in making this announcement.

Yet and still, as with anything of this magnitude, comes a lot of debate and opinion that has inspired some, offended others, but it almost always threatens to detract from the issue at hand. ESPN contributor Chris Broussard has come under fire for explaining his position that homosexuality defies Christ and God while many others, from Kobe Bryant to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, have tweeted their support and encouragement to Jason Collins.

I’ll probably talk more about the various implications Collins’ announcement has on All Subjects Everything tonight starting at 10 p.m. Eastern, but I feel that one issue that must be addressed immediately in the wake of this announcement is the simplicity of being confident, unafraid, unapologetic, brave and yes, courageousness it takes to be yourself.

Jason Collins himself said in the article that he was hoping for the best and expecting the worst in making this announcement, so he’s fully aware of what has happened since the SI issue hit the shelves Monday. No one really makes an announcement regarding their sexuality for kicks in my opinion. Too many people still care about who someone else loves or goes to bed with for this to be a non-issue. But the problem I have with the fallout, backlash, whatever of Collins’ announcement is people have chosen to try and define courage because others have called him “courageous” and “brave” in making this announcement.

I’ve seen people say Martin Luther King, Jr. was courageous (he certainly was), I’ve seen people say Jackie Robinson was brave (damn right he was), but Jason Collins is not. I beg to differ. He is courageous and he is brave because as much as it took for him to say this, end of his career or not, I’m sure it was a hard decision to make. He went ahead with it.

We could all learn something from Jason Collins, WNBA star in the making Brittney Griner and anyone else with the courage to live life on their terms and with no fear of who they are. It must be an amazing thing to wake up every day and be sure of who you are. I admire the hell out of people who live like that.

We all have something we’re hiding, something we’re ashamed of or reluctant to let others see. For me, it took a complete social media blackout to admit that I was depressed and possibly dealing with bi-polar disorder. Thank God for Bassey Ikpi and Dr. Lisa Jones of the Siwe Project showing me that I wasn’t alone and it was okay.

Also, who are we to define what makes someone else courageous? We aren’t walking in their shoes and we aren’t living their life. Jason Collins comes from the world of sports where homophobia, misogyny and racism run rampant, so to be a 7 foot tall BLACK MAN who played in the NBA for going on 13 years now to announce that he is gay is very courageous.

What it boils down to is that courage is to be defined by the courageous. No matter what it is, who you are, how you live, who you love, the ability to be yourself in a world that frowns on anything different is courageous in itself. Jason Collins is an example of that and should be commended for it.

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