Transcript: George Stephanopoulos Interviews Jason Collins After Becoming First Openly Gay NBA Player


Jason Collins Fought Being Gay in the Beginning

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk a little bit more about your journey. You always knew you were gay?

COLLINS: Yeah. I sort of describe it as that the sky is blue but you keep telling yourself that it's red.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you fought it?

COLLINS: Yes. In the beginning. They call it like the 12 steps. You know, you go through anger, denial and all, but when you finally get to that point of acceptance, there's nothing more beautiful. And just allowing yourself to really be happy and be comfortable in your own skin. And of course along with that is that support that I got from my family and from my friends.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You first came out to your aunt.

COLLINS: She was the first family member. I first came out to a friend of mine who actually went to Cal Berkeley. So Stanford guy comes out to -- yeah. But my first family member, he told me, he's like, "You gotta tell someone and the person you trust the most." And it's my aunt. I have a special relationship with my aunt. I love my parents and my brother and everyone else in my family, but there's just something about the way that I get along and just relate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And she said she always knew you were gay?


STEPHANOPOULOS: Known for years.

COLLINS: Yes. And she had her suspicions about me, but she was extremely supportive. And, yeah, she's a judge in San Francisco, so I guess she's good at reading people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you think you might grow up, continue to play, grow old, get married, have a family and never come out?

COLLINS: I knew that I tried everything in the book as far as trying to convince myself. You know, to lead, the life that you should--

STEPHANOPOULOS: You were engaged to a woman at one point?

COLLINS: Yes. And calling off the wedding was obviously a tough decision but it was the right one, because I knew I wasn't getting married for the right reasons. I still love her to this day. She's a great person and-- but as far as doing what was right for both of us, it was the right decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I literally cannot imagine living with what you live with. And you write that you endured years of misery.

COLLINS: Well, when you keep telling yourself a lie, it's tough. But at some point, you buy your own cover story. I guess like a C.I.A. spy or something. But then later in life you see people that -- friends that you went to college with are starting to start their own families. And my brother, he already has three kids now. And you see things that you want in your life and yeah, it makes you kind of unhappy that you're not living an honest, genuine life.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You didn't sleep.

COLLINS: I had trouble sleeping. But all the while I had basketball. I had that routine. And, like most people, when you have something going on in your life you devote-- for me it was you devote yourself to the job. And I devoted myself to basketball, but with the lockout, I didn't have that.

And I started thinking about, you know, "What is the rest of my life going to be?" And that was sort of the impetus for me telling that first person and telling my aunt and then telling my parents and telling my brother and his wife. And just goes on and on and on. And each person that you tell, or that I told was so supportive and just gave me that strength to keep on going.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your brother Jarron, your twin brother.

COLLINS: Twin brother. I'm eight minutes older.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He didn't know?


STEPHANOPOULOS: How is that possible?

COLLINS: I am really good at playing it straight.

No, you know, maybe he needs to hang out with my aunt a little more. Get a discerning eye like she has. But he's been incredibly supportive to the point where he's almost like I always had that big brother role. I was the center.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's eight minutes, after all.

COLLINS: Yeah, eight minutes is an eternity. But yeah, I've always had that role on the team of being sort of, you know, the, quote unquote, "enforcer." I sort of was protective of my little brother, who happens to be close to seven feet and 250. But now he's sort of taken on that role of being protecting me. And it's kind of cool to see just how we're obviously best friends and really close, so--

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's interesting. You write about how -- age of 12-- first time you're allowed to listen to rap, hip hop. And that's when you really felt the difference from your brother. You didn't get his attraction to women.

COLLINS: Well, I think, yeah. All kids around that age, around puberty-- you know, you start noticing things. And yeah, there's a difference between us. And we would make a very interesting case study for scientists out there. Twins, nature versus nurture. And identical versus fraternal. We don't know if we're identical or fraternal. So, like I say, it would be an interesting case study.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And like you say, it's not the first surprise your parents had. They didn't know you were twins?

COLLINS: They didn't know that they were having two kids. Yeah. In the delivery room, the nurse said to the doctor, "There's one more in there." So that's why the big gap in time. So definitely-- we keep surprising our parents.

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