Jason Collins and the acceptance of gay athletes

jason collinsWe’re hearing a lot today about Washington Wizards center Jason Collins, a native Angeleno, who announced to Sports Illustrated that he’s gay. He’s the first player in one of the major men’s professional sports leagues to come out.

Collins wrote on Sports Illustrated’s website today – “If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”

Collins has Southern California connections – he attended Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City and then went on to play for Stanford.

More than thirty years ago, there was another professional athlete who hadn’t come out, but who lived about as openly a gay life as anyone could without coming out.

Glenn Burke was an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and passed away in 1995 in the Bay Area, but not before he told his story about living openly among his Dodger teammates in the 1970s.  The response to his personal life was a little different to the support we’re seeing today.

Author Erik Sherman wrote a book detailing Burke’s life, called “Out at Home: The Glenn Burke Story.”

KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis spoke to Sherman about Burke and Collins. He also spoke with Kevin Roderick of LA Observed.