A few hours before Jason Collins came out in Sports Illustrated, becoming a celebrated pioneer in sports, he made a phone call to his former fiancée, Carolyn Moos, to tell her the reason that their lengthy relationship hadn’t lasted and why he broke off their engagement so many years ago.
Hours later, she says, dozens of reporters called. She first confirmed her identity to the gossip website TMZ. Then Moos, a WNBA player who went to Stanford with Collins, found herself trying to answer questions about their relationship and her thoughts on the announcement.
“My first thought was just I had to take it in," she said of the initial phone call with Collins. "I thought 'really, oh my goodness, he just shared this with me' -- I think I’m a pretty unselfish person -- my thought was 'you must have a huge weight off your shoulders.'
"I had no idea," she added. "I was just trying to put myself in someone else's shoes. I didn't take a whole lot of time in that moment to let it sink in -- what that meant for (the eight years we were together) and for us and trying to create dreams together. For me, all I could think of was 'Wow, how could you go 33 years of your life hiding behind something and not waking up living your own life?'”
Now Moos said that she's putting her efforts into a new outlet: A book about her experience, which she says she hopes can “help people not going through what I went through -- whether it's the man who is trying to come out or the woman who is affected by someone who can't come out."
She first announced the book on her website late last week.
"It's going to be more focused on my perspective, so it won't include personal information about us, or anything that defines us as a couple," she said. “It's more my perspective coming as a woman in this situation and what we can do that’s positive to help the world change."
How far of a reach her message can have is a looming question. Moos and Collins broke up years before he came out and the book, if it comes out, is not likely to have any of the same traction that one from Collins’ himself would have (though he's denied in multiple media reports that he’s working on one). There's also the issue of who will distribute it: Moos, while saying she was in talks with publishers, hasn’t signed a deal yet.
Howard Bragman, the vice chairman of Reputation.com who has handled numerous celebrities coming out, said he didn't see much book potential for Collins at this point after his numerous TV appearances, much less Moos.
"I don't see a big book there and more to the point, I don't really respect it," he said. "I think what she's said so far has been great. I think she's been supportive and expressed affection, but she didn't know he was gay so what is there really for her to talk about?"
For her part, Moos said she’s hoping to be part of all the positives that come out of her former fiancee's announcement. She said she's been incredibly touched by the notes she’s received from people who shared similar experiences to her's in emails. And those are the people, she said, that she's hoping to create a dialogue with through anything that may be published in the future.
"Those things really touch me and I try to read through every one of them,” she said. "That keeps me going and I think people are like 'do you get frustrated?' but I think from reading those personal stories (I'm) like 'wow, this could really help change the world.'”