Count me among those who applaud Jason Collins for his courage in announcing that he is gay. It is a gutsy step.
However, do not count me among those who would equate this to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier.
First of all, Jackie Robinson and other African-Americans didn’t have the choice of whether to tell people they were black or not. They were black. Every time they walked out of their house into public, it was apparent they were black. For people that are gay, they do have the power to hide that, like Jason did for his entire 12 year career.
That isn’t to diminish what that is like to have to hide that; it is just recognize a difference.
In addition, Jackie Robinson and other black players weren’t the ones that had the big decision to make. It was the people that controlled the game that had to let them in. Jason Collins and others at least have the ability to make the announcement if and when they choose. Again, not diminishing what he did, just pointing out a difference.
Also, we must recognize that these are totally different times. People are far more open to hearing from and accepting LGBT people in our society than what African-Americans faced in the 1940’s. Sure, there is prejudice today toward LGBT, but to say it is on the scale of what black athletes faced back then just isn’t realistic.
One other point; Jackie Robinson was a great player, so he was in far more of a position to be heckled. Jason Collins is a role player who barely plays. Plus, the kind of heckling Robinson faced was tolerated back then. It will never be tolerated in today’s society.