A day after veteran NBA player Jason Collins made national headlines by becoming the first active male athlete in the four major sports to come out as gay, state lawmakers, gay rights advocates and labor and law enforcement officials participated in Empire State Pride Agenda's annual lobby day in Albany.
Although New Yorkers are becoming more accepting following the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2011, activists and advocates want to ensure that gay rights and gay pride stay in the media spotlight.
Reginald T. Brown is with the LGBT faith leaders of African Descent of New York City. He calls Jason Collins' coming out "a game-changer." Ashley Andrews of Buffalo's Gay-Straight Alliance says everyone deserves human rights. Alana Sophia O'Hair is a trans-woman from Troy who attributes the internet to sealing her fate to "come out" - O'Hair sees Jason Collins’ effort to become visible as pushing society forward. David Whitbeck and his wife have many friends in the gay community - the retiree applauds Collins' courage. Watertown High student Britney Ruiz wants her gay and transgendered friends to be able to enjoy the teen years as much as anyone else - she called Collins' revelation a cultural milestone.
Kyra Elliott believes 2013 is the year that changes everything for those in the gay community, and that those changes will trickle into other groups and classes. In a statement of support for Jason Collins, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers expressed happiness and pride and said in the end "It will be society who has to learn tolerance." If the Albany gathering is any indication, society may be well on its way toward that goal.