Gay US basketball star Jason Collins, 35, is one of the guests selected to sit with Michelle Obama at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on 28 January.
Collins made history as the first male athlete to come out as gay while playing for a major US team sport in April 2013.
He did so in a Sports Illustrated interview and cover photo entitled The Gay Athlete, which drew a record number of visitors to the Sports Illustrated website.
It is thought the guests are indicative of what themes Obama will include in his speech.
Both Michelle and Barack Obama have been vocal supporters of Collins since his landmark coming out.
Obama told reporters at a White House conference that he ‘couldn’t be prouder’ of the basketball star after he came out.
‘I think a lot of young people out there who are gay or lesbian who are struggling with these issues to see a role model like that, who’s unafraid, I think it’s a great thing. And I think America should be proud that this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly.’
Michelle took to her Twitter to show her support for the athlete. The day after Collins’ interview went viral she tweeted:
‘So proud of you Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back!’
A few weeks after this tweet, Collins and the First Lady attended a Democratic National Committee fundraising event in May.
Collins will sit with Michelle Obama during the President’s speech alongside other special guests including survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman, fire chief Gary Bird from Moore, Oklahoma, 16-year-old Intel intern Joey Hudy and teacher of the year Kathy Hollowell-Makle from Washington D.C.
Story courtesy Liam Johnson at GayStarNews