Tonight at the Staples center, newly-signed Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins checked into the game, becoming the first openly gay professional athlete to play in the four major sports leagues. Collins taking the floor in Los Angeles is a momentous, historic occasion, knocking down a massive taboo about sexuality in the world of professional sports. Here’s the moment it happened, with the crowd’s reaction, for posterity sake:
You know what I think is even cooler about this, though? The fact that after tonight’s game, Collins is going to do something that’s symbolically huge for the LGBT community:
After tonight, Jason Collins will wear #98 to honor the memory of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered for being gay in 1998. Standup move, bro
— Brandon Wenerd (@brandonwenerd) February 24, 2014
If you’re not familiar, Matthew Shepard was a gay University of Wyoming student who was tied to a fence, pistol-whipped, and left to die in a vicious hate murder in October, 1998. In the decade after, the crime lead to hate crime legislation for those targeted on the basis of sexual orientation at the federal level.
Honoring Matthew Shepard’s memory is the very core definition of a Bro move by Collins. Hopefully it provides a reminder of just how destructive and devastating hate can be.