In the mid-afternoon lull on Sept. 29, as people lounged and chatted between classes on the sun-washed green at the University of North Florida, a tight knot of students, faculty, spectators and media waited anxiously for a hero to arrive.
A ripple of anticipation passed through the crowd the moment he stepped into view 100 yards away, casually ambling towards them with perfect ease, smiling all the way.
A seven foot tall hulk of a man, former NBA center Jason Collins is not merely physical large, he is a huge symbol of bravery and hope for millions. In 2014, Collins became the first openly gay person to play in the NBA.
He is a living, breathing hero for LGBT rights and equality.
“My life is exponentially better since coming out,” Collins told the rapt crowd, many of whom are LGBT like him. Collins’ story of fighting his truth, trying to fit in, to be the straight man he thought he was supposed to be before coming out to himself and his family at 33, the world shortly thereafter, resonated. In so many ways, his story is their story.
And for many, so is his political message: Collins has been on a whirlwind tour of Florida urging people to register to vote and campaigning for Hillary Clinton. He’s of the mind that a vote for Clinton is a vote for equality, a vote for acceptance, a vote for the future of a country that is already great – but could easily turn back the clock of inclusion on November 8.
After he spoke to the crowd, Folio Weekly Magazine had the honor of sitting down with the champion.
Collins explained that he isn’t merely stumping for Clinton the politician, he’s putting himself out there for Hillary the person. A classmate of Chelsea Clinton’s at Stanford University, Collins has known the Clintons for almost 20 years. Bill and Hillary came to his graduation party; his sister-in-law was a bridesmaid in Chelsea Clinton’s wedding and she in … More