Jason Collins made sports history this week by coming out, but he had help getting to the big moment.
The NBA player got guidance from another groundbreaking gay man, former N'Sync member Lance Bass. The boy bander, now 33, came out in 2006. While he wasn't the first pop star to reveal he was gay, Bass' statement was met with shock from millions of fans.
Now, Bass tells listeners of his Sirius XM radio show that Collins reached out to him the day he made his big announcement to solicit advice. Though the two stars didn't know each other, they were connected by mutual friend Joanna Garcia Swisher, wife of MLB player Nick Swisher.
"He calls, and I was like 'So, how is your day going?' And he was like 'Well, I just got off the phone with two presidents and Oprah, so pretty good,'" says Bass. "When I came out, I had 24 hours to decide what was going to happen, because basically the magazine said 'We're doing it with or without you.' So I had 24 hours to decide to do this interview and I did…and I thought it went great. But what I wish I could have done back then was to have a couple of days to sit down with HRC, sit down with GLAAD...because back then...[it was just] like Jason told me today, 'I don't really know many gay people, because all my life has been is sports.'"
He continues, "so I gave him some really great connections," Bass said. "He's going to sit down with GLAAD today...and get some really good information...so he doesn't put his foot in his mouth, say something that he's going to regret...This will live [on] for the rest of his life, and he wants to make sure it's good."
Bass's advice clearly worked. Collins has received an outpouring of support from both celebs and fans, and has called the response to his announcement "mind boggling." Among those who publicly congratulated Collins on his bold step were President Barack Obama and NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
To borrow a sports analogy, Collins scored a slam dunk.
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