Orlando Cruz wants to clear up any misconception the media has in proclaiming Jason Collins’ announcement as the first out professional male athlete.
“He is the first active gay basketball player,” Cruz stated to NBC Latino. “But I was the first in boxing. I feel very happy that I’m inspiring other athletes to gain the courage to do the same.”
Not that there’s any competition for the milestone achievement (and, yes, we know there are out female athletes), Cruz just acknowledged that he understands the difficult decision faced by Collins.
“I understand the physical and mental preparation that Collins went through to make the announcement,” Cruz said, who also reveals he often cried every night in the years before he came out because he couldn’t be open about his orientation.
Cruz said his hometown in Puerto Rico and his fellow boxing teammates were very accepting when he came out publicly and he’s certain Collins will greeted the same way.
“Coming out does not make him less of a man because he is a great athlete,” Cruz said. “He is living the dream of every high school kid who wants to play basketball. He should always keep his self-esteem up because he has the right to be where he is like any other athlete.”