Ben Shapiro hated watching Jason Collins celebrated for his courage 11 years ago. He hasn't stopped ranting against the gay community since. | Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press

When NBA player Jason Collins came out publicly 11 years ago, he was lauded as a hero. 

Never before had an NBA player, or anyone in the Big Four sports in the U.S., come out publicly as gay

His courage inspired countless people to live their lives openly, including many in sports.

Ben Shapiro, on the other hand, wasn’t having it.

The conservative writer and talk host was one of the loudest voices attacking the adoration of Collins for his courage. And make no mistake, coming out as gay in the NBA took – and still takes – a ton of courage.

Shapiro simply couldn’t stand that Collins was being celebrated for writing a chapter of the history books and coming out as gay.

“So Jason Collins is a hero because he’s gay?” Shapiro lied on X. “Our standard for heroism has dropped quite a bit since Normandy.”

Of course, no one said Collins is a hero “because he’s gay.” Shapiro routinely reduces gay people to their orientation – simply being gay defines our being, not our courage or anything else – so this was par for the course.

What was heroic about Collins’ public acknowledgement is that he found the courage to come out to fans and his fellow players. And he found the courage to do it in a powerful way. 

Collins is, thanks in part to people like Shapiro trying to make America a harder place for people to be out as gay, still the only active NBA player to come out publicly. 


Shapiro routinely demeans gay people and any acknowledgement that they are gay. He says on the one hand he respects gay people then says they don’t deserve equality and are leading to the end of civilization.

More on that in a minute.

In 2013, Shapiro then further embarrassed himself by sharing false statistics about Collins, cutting the NBA veteran’s average per game production by more than half. 

“Jason Collins averaged 1.1 PPG, 1.6 RPG, and 0.3 BPG. All more relevant than the fact that he’s gay.”

In fact, Collins averaged 3.6 points per game, 3.7 rebounds per game and 0.5 blocks per game over his NBA career.

But those pesky facts.

If Shapiro is trying to say “Collins wasn’t an All-Star so he sucks,” half of that is true. 

Collins wasn’t an NBA All-Star. That’s a fact. 

And… he most definitely didn’t suck. No one who isn’t good at professional sports has a 13-season career and helps his team to the playoffs as much as Collins.

In 13 seasons, his team made the NBA Playoffs 10 times, reaching the NBA Finals with the New Jersey Nets in 2003. In the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons that season, he led the team in rebounds two of those games. 

Shapiro rounded out his homophobic days-long tirade against Collins in 2013 by joining Piers Morgan on CNN and blowing the reaction to Collins absurdly out of proportion, in an attempt to discredit all of it.

“You think this is such a homophobic country,” he said to Morgan, “that when Jason Collins comes out, it’s the biggest deal in the history of humanity.”

This is a cheap tactic Shapiro regularly uses when trying to demean the fact that people like a story he doesn’t like, claiming it’s blown out of proportion. He doesn’t like any positive publicity a gay person gets for coming out, so he lies about the scope of the coverage. 

It’s a cheap trick.

No, this wasn’t “the biggest deal in the history of humanity.” In fact, with the Supreme Court siding with same-sex marriage, and the Snowden leaks, it wasn’t even the “biggest deal” of 2013. And the media and public didn’t treat it as such.

Yet this is the game Shapiro plays. 

What does this have to do with us 11 years later? Shapiro continues to be an enemy of LGBTQ equality, even same-sex marriage.

He routinely launches into false screeds about why same-sex marriage is wrong. 

First he says that marriage should be strictly about the raising of children. Because two men can’t have a baby through procreation, he says that disqualifies them from marriage.

Yet many same-sex couples do raise children. The number is increasing every year. And many heterosexual couples don’t have children, or adopt just like many same-sex couples.

As he decries the decline of heterosexual couples’ interest in having children as the end of civilization (yes, he actually argues this), he also ignores or chastises same-sex couples’ increasing interest in having children.

But, of course, he claims he’s not anti-gay.

He’s also said that heterosexual couples are inherently better at raising children than two men or two women, despite evidence to the contrary.

We will continue to celebrate the day Jason Collins came out publicly. He was a courageous hero for doing so, and for doing so with a Sports Illustrated cover story. 

The conservative tears are flowing right onto Shapiro’s coffee mug.