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Spike Lee slams the Jason Collins hate machine

Swimmer Ian Thorpe, seen here in 2004 with one of his five Olympic gold medals, told an Australian news outlet that he is gay in an interview that aired on Sunday, July 13. Click through to see other openly gay athletes. Swimmer Ian Thorpe, seen here in 2004 with one of his five Olympic gold medals, told an Australian news outlet that he is gay in an interview that aired on Sunday, July 13. Click through to see other openly gay athletes.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jason Collins is first openly gay athlete playing in a major U.S. team sport
  • Spike Lee responds to one critic: "You are ignorant"
  • Bill and Chelsea Clinton among those to congratulate Collins

(CNN) -- NBA veteran Jason Collins on Monday revealed he is gay, making him the first U.S. professional athlete to do so while actively playing.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation.

"I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand," Collins wrote in an essay.

As social media reaction gained momentum, filmmaker Spike Lee found himself explaining equal rights 101 to fans and critics alike. Here are a few of his early posts, followed by reaction from sports figures, athletes and politicians.

If you are unable to see the Storify below, please click here.

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