Jason Collins’ Ex Speaks Out

The former fiancée of the first openly gay NBA player shares her pain of living in the dark.

Jason Collins (Jason Kempin/Getty Images); Carolyn Moos (Katy Winn/Getty Images)

Nearly four years later, when Collins finally provided Moos with the answer she could never have found on her own, her response was equal parts class and compassion. “I had no idea. I’m sure a huge weight is off your shoulders,” she told him. 

“I empathize with Jason,” Moos said, “and support him. But at the same time, I remain deeply hurt by him.”

That’s a strong and truthful statement — one that too often gets obscured under the praise heaped on our newly out and proud heroes who’ve undoubtedly hurt people. To be clear, Moos’ admission that she’d been heartbroken in no way negates Collins’ bravery, but it does provide a different lens through which to view it.

Coming out as an adult with a suitcase full of more baggage is hardly an easy journey. But the bumps on the road — like an ex-fiancée — are more than just fleeting inconveniences. They should warrant more than a phone call or a heads-up the very same day that a groundbreaking essay hits newsstands. Compassion, after all, is a two-way street.

In her Cosmo exclusive, Moos makes clear that she’s telling her side of the story in the hopes that it might help other people. But I don’t think she means other women scorned. Nowhere in the piece does she outline salacious gotcha or aha! moments. The idiotic term “gaydar” is thankfully absent.

She trusted her former fiancé when he said he wanted to raise a family with her. “He told me that I was his soul mate,” Moos recalled, “and I was meant for him.” She had no idea Collins was gay and doesn’t try to piece together hidden clues as a blueprint for other men and women in similar situations. Instead, Moos tells the story of being forced into a closet and how searching for answers in the dark leaves people feeling hurt and confused.

So I believe the cautionary tale Moos tells is truly intended for other closeted adults. Not by shaming or guilting them out of hiding, but by presenting an aerial shot of the battlefield. There are almost always more casualties than early reports reveal.

Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter. 

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