How Rep. Joe Kennedy III Helped Jason Collins Decide to Come Out

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 29 2013 11:41 AM

How Rep. Joe Kennedy III Helped Jason Collins Decide to Come Out

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Rep. Joe Kennedy speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 4, 2012.

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages

It's far from the lede (my colleague Josh Levin will have more on the Collins story later), but Jason Collins' essay about coming out of the closest offers an interesting political sidebar:

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride.
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I profiled JKIII last year, during what turned out to be a smooth political debut. He was a lacrosse player at Stanford, which didn't seem like a compelling line in his bio until right now.

UPDATE: Kennedy's statement:

For as long as I've known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find. Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he's got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I'm proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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