LGBTQ figures and allies in the NBA traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina last weekend for the league’s All-Star festivities, which were shrouded in controversy due to the state’s passage — and only partial repeal — of an anti-LGBTQ law.
Among those in attendance included former NBA player Jason Collins, who came out late in his career during a stint with the Brooklyn Nets; Pistons guard Reggie Bullock, who is from North Carolina and whose transgender sister, Mia Henderson, was murdered; and out gay Warriors COO and President Rick Welts.
The NBA initially planned to move the All-Star Game away from the state due to the “bathroom bill” known as HB 2, which required people to use the bathroom corresponding to their birth certificate in schools and public facilities. Outrage over the initial law prompted widespread outrage, including in the NCAA, which signaled that it would not host its championship games in the state until the law was repealed. But that law was technically wiped out and replaced with HB 142, which did away with the requirement that people use the bathroom corresponding to their birth certificate and removed a ban on local cities and counties from employing nondiscrimination ordinances. However, there were major caveats, such as a deadline on the nondiscrimination ordinances ban, which will expire on December 1, 2020.
The repeal was also met with wide-ranging skepticism in the LGBTQ community, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that, “for many people, it didn’t go far enough.”
Welts traveled to North Carolina to participate in the festivities under the specific condition that he would be able to speak with Governor Roy Cooper, Hornets executives, and other local leaders, according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, Bullock met with 25 LGBTQ youth and allies at the Time Out Center, a Charlotte-based safe space for queer youth.
“It was good for me to be able to be here with them and talk to them and hear their stories,” Bullock said, reports the LA Times. “They weren’t holding back on anything. It opened up my eyes to what they have to go through on a daily basis, because when you randomly walk past someone, you never what they’re going through. I’m trying to educate myself every day as a straight man on this community that I stand up for and support.”
According to OutSports, Collins spent his All-Star weekend working with NBA Cares, which is described as the league’s social responsibility program that builds on the NBA’s mission to address social issues.