The WNBA continues to be a safe haven for the LGBTQ community.
As the world continues to evolve and the themes of inclusion and tolerance further influence and shape the professional sports landscape, the WNBA continues to be the leading pro sports entity when it comes to promoting, supporting and empowering women, along with bringing pride to the LGBTQ community.
The mission seems to be working as ratings are up.
ESPN says WNBA games are averaging 247,000 viewers per game through nine nationally-televised games, up 38 percent over last year and most watched season at this point since 2012: https://t.co/ONWTMhRVQv
At its All-Star Game in Minneapolis this Saturday, July 28th, most sports fans will watch the game to see the leagues brightest stars flex their skills on the hardwood.
Others will be bursting with a personal pride and marking it as a watershed moment, as there are a record seven publicly out LGBTQ players that we know of in the game, making up 32% of the players: Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, DeWanna Bonner, Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, Angel McCoughtry and Diana Taurasi.
For years, LGBTQ players have had to suppress their life choices and keep their relationships hidden because of societys overall attitudes. It was an unfair burden that kept many players unfulfilled and uncomfortable off the basketball court.
But more gay players are now coming out, supporting each other and challenging a prejudiced culture with a celebration of freedom.
WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes would be proud of this moment. While the numbers of LGBTQ players were probably just as high when she was starring in the league in the late ’90s and 2000s, the public backlash could be venomous at times back then.
Swoopes is a pioneer in the constant struggle for acceptance in the workplace for gay and lesbian athletes.
Before she admitted to the press in 2005 that she had been in a long-term relationship with Alisa “Scottie” Scott, an assistant coach with the Comets, most people chose to ignore the issue of same-sex relationships in the WNBA. It was the elephant in the room.
“I’m just at a point in my life where I’m tired of having to pretend to be somebody I’m not,” Swoopes revealed to ESPN The Magazine. “I’m tired of having to hide my feelings about the person I care about. About the person I love. …I was basically living a lie.”
Her personal journey brought a much-needed conversation to the forefront. It offered perspective and education, and broadened our understanding of sexuality and how we cant put love in categories or restrain its possibilities.
Other stars followed and began to open up about their sexual orientations.
WNBA All-Star Sue Bird joins SportsCenter to explain why she chose to share her sexual orientation with the world now and talks about her relationship with soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
Current WNBA MVP and U.S. women’s Olympic basketball player Elena Delle Donne, has revealed she is gay. The Chicago Sky star, who is also currently leading the US women’s quest for gold in Rio, told Vogue magazine that she is engaged to her longtime partner Amanda Clifton.
Synchronization of Sisters: It’s Deeper Than Hoops
There is a key difference between the All-Star teams selected to play in this year’s game by legendary captains Candace Parker and Elena Delle Donne.
Six of the seven players who have publicly acknowledged being LGBTQ to a member of the media were selected by Delle Donne, while only one of the seven players (McCoughtry) was chosen by Parker.
Via SB Nation:
Yet its interesting that Delle Donne, for whatever reason, gravitated in selection toward the out players. Maybe it was totally random, maybe she just happens to be friends with those players. She hasnt given much public insight into why she made the selections she did, but she did talk before the draft about her top pick.
Delle Donne had an opportunity to show unity, support and strength among her fellow LGBTQ players.
With Delle Donne selecting six of the publicly out WNBA players to her team, it also sends a message to the LGBTQ community at large. Its a moment for everyone to celebrate their journey to acceptance, normalcy and transparency in American society.
When a significant percentage of the games all-time greats are gay, the community that has built the WNBA into the attraction it is today must be acknowledged and celebrated.
Seeing the legendary faces of Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, who married former teammate Penny Taylor back in 2017, is inspirational and uplifting to those LGBTQ players and fans still hesitant to face societys bigoted and critical consciousness.
Its also a way of showing the world that these women will no longer suppress their happiness and souls to please a political, social or marketing agenda.
Former #WNBA teammates @dianataurasi and @_pennytaylor_ are married! https://t.co/UjYehh4gqW
Saturdays All-Star game will represent the best in womens basketball athletically, culturally and socially.
Its impact is sure to be deeper than the score and transcends basketball.