I’d never heard of Jason Collins when I saw a friend’s Facebook status earlier today announcing the news that he was gay. (I prefer college basketball over the NBA.) As I googled his name to find out more, one thought kept running through my mind: “Please be black.”
I wanted Jason Collins to be black, because I knew what it would mean to black gay youth in this country. I wanted him to be black because I’m hyper-aware that the list of influential LGBT celebrities like Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper and Neil Patrick Harris is very white. Most important, I wanted Jason Collins to be black because I know exactly what it’s like to be a gay teenager with dark brown skin who comes out but cannot find anyone gay who looks like you on television. Or in magazines. Or on the news. These days, when I lecture about LGBT issues on college campuses and various other events, people often tell me I’m the only black person they’ve ever seen speak out for gay rights. The pride I feel is mixed with uneasiness because I wish that weren’t the case.