Community reacts to NBA star coming out

Published On: Apr 29 2013 09:58:46 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 30 2013 07:10:39 AM EDT

We asked members of the local athletic and LGBT community about the historic announcement.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community in Jacksonville is nothing but supportive of Collins' announcement.

"I really just want to thank Jason for coming out and having the courage and being who God wants him to be," said Spiritual Leader at Living Witness Family Worship Center, Valerie Williams.

Williams told Channel 4 Monday night that she hopes that Collins will be an inspiration to people still hiding their sexuality.

"I know that for an African American male it took a lot of courage especially in the limelight to come out today, I hope that he will know that we will be praying for him that he will be an inspiration for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community, particular, black males," said Williams.

Collins announcement certainly moved people across the country to respond on Monday. President Obama called Collins and offered his support and several current and former players took to twitter after the news broke.

NBA Hall of Fame's, Artis Gilmore told Channel 4 that he's not sure how his fellow teammates would have reacted to the news 20 years ago.

"For me to have this type of information, it takes me a minute to process it. It's different but it seems to be acceptable in society," said Gilmore.

"Is this something you accept?" asked Channel 4's Tim Pulliam.

"Absolutely," said Gilmore. "If my son came to me and told me he was gay, I would love my son. Absolutely."

It's that growing acceptance that advocates say is vital.

"It sends a message to gay youth that they can grow up and be anything in this world, including a sports star," said Deputy Director for Equality Florida, Stratton Pollitzer.

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