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NBA player Jason Collins comes out as gay

Jason Collins playing for the New Jersey Nets Photo: REUTERS/John Gress

NBA player Jason Collins has come out as gay, making him the first openly gay active athlete from a major American team sport.

The 34 year old, who currently plays for the Washington Wizards, has come out in an article he wrote for Sports Illustrated.

In the May 6th edition of the magazine, he writes:

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation.

"I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different."

"If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."

Jason Collins playing for the New Jersey Nets Credit: REUTERS/Peter Jones

Seven foot Jason Collins has had a varied 12 year career, playing for teams in New Jersey, Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston and Washington.

He is not the first NBA player to come out - Brit John Ameachi did so in 2007 but after his career had ended.

The cover of Sports Illustrated Credit: Sports Illustrated

Amaechi congratulated Collins this afternoon, via his Twitter account, as did Kobe Bryant:

Jason Collins has told Sports Illustrated that he is unsure of whether his new status will affect his ability to be signed to a team in future, or how teammates or fans may react.

However, luminaries such as former US President Bill Clinton were informed prior to the announcement.

Clinton said in a statement:

"I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea's classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason's announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community.

"It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities.

"For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason's colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned."