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Lance Bass helped gay athlete Jason Collins 'come out'

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Apr 30, 2013 | 6:19pm EDT

Sportsman Jason Collins reached out to openly-gay singer Lance Bass for advice before 'coming out' as a homosexual on Monday (29Apr13). The basketball star, 34, has hit the headlines after becoming the first professional U.S. male athlete to 'come out', making the big revelation in a column for Sports Illustrated magazine. Gay icon Bette Midler and openly gay stars Ricky Martin and Rosie O'Donnell were among the celebrities who applauded the former Washington Wizards player for going public, and now Bass, who officially revealed he was gay in a 2006 magazine interview, has revealed Collins wanted to reach out to the 'N Sync star for tips months ago, but he was too scared. Collins eventually contacted the singer through their mutual friend, actress JoAnna Garcia, and Bass was more than happy to help. Speaking on his SiriusXM radio show, Bass says, "He's been trying to plan this for a very long time, contemplating if he wanted to do this. In fact, he said he was going to call me months ago, but he got too scared. I gave him some very good advice." Detailing his own 'coming out' experience, Bass added, "When I came out, I had 24 hours to decide what was going to happen... What I wish I could have done back then was to have a couple of days to sit down with (the Human Rights Campaign), sit down with GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)... So I gave him some really great connections." Meanwhile, lesbian comedienne Ellen DeGeneres has also commended Collins, telling E! Online, "He's a very brave man. For the first guy, actively playing, 'cause there's a lot - well, not a lot, but some people have come out after they retire, but to do it while he's still playing is a really brave thing and I'm really proud of him." She jokes, "I would high-five you, but I don't think I can reach you. But when I see you, I am gonna hug your knees so hard."

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