Jason Collins says he came out to the Clintons before going public with his sexuality

When Jason Collins came out as gay in a 2013 Sports Illustrated cover story, many were surprised by the news. After all, it meant that Collins was the first openly gay active male athlete in the four major U.S. sports. 

But two people that apparently already knew of Collins’ sexuality prior to the SI story were Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The former NBA player revealed that Monday night, when he was one of the celebrity speakers during the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. While speaking in support of Hillary’s candidacy for president, Collins told the crowd that he had gotten to know the Clinton family during his time at Stanford University, where he was classmates with Chelsea Clinton. He said he disclosed his sexual orientation to their family before sharing it with the rest of the world.

"Before I came out to the world on the cover of Sports Illustrated, I came out privately to the Clinton family. I’ve known their family for almost 20 years. I knew that they would accept me for who I was and that they would help pave a path for others to do the same. I am forever grateful for their words of wisdom back then and their unconditional support. They knew that my sexual orientation made no difference in my ability to play basketball, just as someone’s gender makes no difference in his or her ability to lead our nation."

Since coming out publicly, Collins has become an advocate for LGBTQ rights and used his speech Monday night to place an emphasis on inclusion and praise Clinton for her progressive stance on equality.