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Massachusetts Congressman "Surprised" By Prominent Role He Played In Jason Collins Coming Out

Congressman Joe Kennedy, Collins' old Stanford roommate, was instrumental in the NBA center coming out as gay.

Posted on May 3, 2013, at 1:25 p.m. ET

Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy said he's "surprised" about the prominent role he played in NBA center Jason Collins coming out as gay.

"Quite frankly I was surprised that it had an impact on him," Kennedy told local Boston TV station WHDH. "I've known Jason a long time, he didn't need any help in this. He's a thoughtful guy, he's a deliberative guy. He did this all on his own."

Collins wrote in Sports Illustrated he realized he needed to come out publicly when he saw Kennedy, his roommate at Stanford, marching in the Boston gay pride parade.

"I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade," Collins wrote. "I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator."

"In my conversations with him you can tell he's really happy and looking forward to the next chapters ahead," Kennedy added in his interview. "He's now a historic figure in sports, he's a historic figure in his country. He's not going let any sort of labels define him."