The moment has been coming, when an athlete playing in one of the leading professional leagues would announced that he is gay. It follows somehow that the word arrived as the justices of the Supreme Court weigh the legal place of gay marriage and surveys show a majority of Americans embracing the concept.

Yet it is never easy to be a pioneer, as Jason Collins, a 34-year-old journeyman in the NBA, surely will discover. Many warm words have been uttered, tweeted and otherwise expressed since Monday, many fellow players among those offering encouragement and sharing their admiration. Soon enough, the day-to-day will arrive, when many are not always at their best.

What offers reassurance, beyond the lifting of a burden, Collins free now in a profound way, is the progress, astonishing actually. Recall just nine years ago, gay marriage in Ohio and elsewhere a divisive tool to win votes. Much of the momentum is generational, young people far ahead of their elders in rightly seeing gay men and women as part of the ordinary fabric of our lives.

With that in mind, it would be best if Jason Collins played next season in the NBA, no certain thing given his age and level of his game. The many flights and hotels, the entering arenas and games would confirm a steady, mundane presence. It would deepen surely what already he has achieved, opening further the door to equality.