August 12, 2016 at 7:15 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Fanning, Collins to represent Obama at Olympics closing ceremony

Eric Fanning, gay news, Washington Blade, Pride Heroes

Army Secretary Eric Fanning (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The White House announced on Friday that Army Secretary Eric Fanning and former professional basketball player Jason Collins will attend the closing ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics on behalf of President Obama.

Fanning and Collins will join U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Liliana Ayalde, Bess Evans of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Domestic Policy Council, Lauren Kelly of the Office of First Lady Michelle Obama and Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee in Rio de Janeiro. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will lead the delegation to the closing ceremony.

“The delegation will attend athletic events, meet with U.S. athletes and attend the closing ceremony,” said the White House in a press release that announced the delegation.

Fanning became the first-ever openly gay Army secretary in May.

Collins in 2013 became the first male athlete who was actively playing in a major American professional sports league to come out. The former Washington Wizards center retired from the National Basketball League less than two years later.

Collins wrote on Twitter that he is “beyond honored” and “excited” to represent Obama at the closing ceremony.

Fanning said he is “thrilled” to travel to Rio de Janeiro.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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