We now live in a time where athletes are not as scared to come out. Some even feel it is part of their duty to help younger LGBT athletes realize they can dream big and have role models to look up to.
Whether these lesbian athletes are stars in the realms of soccer, basketball, or tennis, their personal stories and advocacy for gay rights make them inspirations for sports fans all over the world. Some notable openly gay female athletes have competed in the Olympics and other talented lesbian athletes are World Cup champions. A few of the most famous lesbian athletes were pioneers in the LGBTQ movement.
So here is a list of some famous lesbian athletes we should be proud of:
The 27-year-old U.S. Olympic soccer player spoke frankly about her sexuality in an interview with Out magazine, saying she is a lesbian and in a committed relationship with a woman. While her statement may seem bold, the 27-year-old Rapinoe told Out’s Jerry Portwood that she’d just never been asked directly. “I think they were trying to be respectful and that it’s my job to say, ‘I’m gay,’ she said. “Which I am. For the record: I am gay.” Rapinoe, who’s been dating her girlfriend — identified in the magazine only as an Australian soccer player — for three years, also took time to chat about homophobia in sports and, more specifically, female athletes’ perspective on the subject. “I feel like sports, in general, are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” she said. Still, she added, “In female sports, if you’re gay, most likely your team knows it pretty quickly. It’s very open and widely supported. For males, it’s not that way at all. It’s sad.”
Elena Delle Donne
As if playing in the Olympics wasn’t exciting enough, WNBA champ Elena Delle Donne has come out as gay in a Vogue magazine interview, announcing her engagement to girlfriend Amanda Clifton.
“It was just one of those articles where they came into my home, spent a couple days with me, and [fiancee] Amanda is a huge part of my life,” says Delle Donne, an MVP with the Chicago Sky.
“So to leave her out wouldn’t have made any sense. It’s not a coming out article or anything. I’ve been with her for a very long time now, and people who are close to me know that, and that’s that.”
“I came from a fairly conservative [upbringing]. I know my mom loves me – I know my family loves me. But sometimes for really deep-feeling people, it’s hard to actually feel that. Being gay and then having some of these demons that I felt I had to numb away – and some of the pain that I had throughout my career – it was part of who I am. Being inside my own skin and being scared and being in pain? I just really wanted to feel love.”
Brittney Griner’s basketball skills took her to the top of her sport, helping her college team win a national championship at Baylor and becoming the No. 1 pick of the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WNBA draft.
But as a gay woman, she also felt burdened by a policy written into the student handbook at her private Christian university, which banned homosexual behavior and advocacy for LGBT issues. She hopes someday to help reverse the policy at Baylor, a school she still loves. “To break something, we have to bring it up, we have to get it out there, and eventually the topic will start to become more of a conversation,” she says.
Vibeke Skofterud is a cross-country skier from Norway. Her best showing in previous Olympics came in Salt Lake City in 2002 with an eighth place win in the 30km. In 2008, Skofterud came out in the Norwegian magazine See and Hear, telling them that she’d known she was gay for a while: “I have gone many rounds with myself, and it has taken a lot of time to figure out. I was not always honest with my own feelings.” She went on to say that she would live in a “dump site” as long as she could live with her girlfriend.
“I knew I was gay by the time I reached middle school. I’ve never been attracted to guys. I can appreciate their beauty, but it comes without desire. I’ve always had a more intimate connection with women. In high school, I kissed a girl for the first time. It felt too comfortable and too right to think I was anyone but whom I was in that moment. I’ve followed that honesty my whole life.”
Caitlin is an American ice hockey defenseman who won a silver medal with the women’s national team at the 2010 Winter Olympics. She first took to the ice as a figure skater but became enamored with hockey and began competing in leagues with boys at a young age.
“For me, [coming out] really wasn’t a question,” she said. “I knew when my hockey career was done… that I could be doing more for people out there. … It was in part motivated by some of the Russian LGBT policies that were becoming worldwide, and in part, it was because I speak with a lot of young athletes all the time and I want to be honest with them.”
Billie Jean King