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How A Kennedy Helped The NBA's Jason Collins Come Out

Jason Collins and now-Rep. Joe Kennedy III were roommates at Stanford.

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WASHINGTON — With Monday's announcement by the NBA's Jason Collins that he is gay, the sports world exploded. On the sidelines was the important part that politics — or at least one politician — played in the decision.

From his piece in Sports Illustrated:

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."

The recent Boston Marathon bombing reinforced the notion that I shouldn't wait for the circumstances of my coming out to be perfect. Things can change in an instant, so why not live truthfully? When I told Joe a few weeks ago that I was gay, he was grateful that I trusted him. He asked me to join him in 2013. We'll be marching on June 8.

Following Monday's report, Kennedy said in a statement, "For as long as I've known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he's got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I'm proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend."

And, he tweeted:

I’ve always been proud to call @jasoncollins34 a friend, and I’m even prouder to stand with him today.

I’ve always been proud to call @jasoncollins34 a friend, and I’m even prouder to stand with him today.-- Rep. Joe Kennedy III

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at

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