I feel like the WNBA rarely gets the chance to shine in the press, but I want to take a second to give a big props to some of the words of wisdom that three new recruits shared about sports and sexuality. Namely that your sexual orientation shouldn’t matter when it comes to being the best athlete you can be.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, three new WNBA draft picks – Brittney Griner, Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne – talked about how in women’s sports there seems to be more acceptance for non-hetero sexualities, whereas that is not the case in men’s sports. Griner talked about her experience as an “out” athlete, stating at one point: “Don’t hide who you really are.”
I know fellow athletes whose sexual orientation was different than my own, and it’s never bothered me because just as it shouldn’t affect how I interact with someone in day-to-day life, the exact same thing goes when you’re playing sports. In the same way, it didn’t matter to be which of my teammates were in relationships or single. When we’re all playing our game, that’s the only thing we are thinking about, and at the end of the day, I just want them to be happy.
Skylar really summed up the whole sexuality and sports issue some people seem to have with this quote: “We like [Brittney] because she’s herself. I think it’s the same, we don’t care, you know, it has nothing to do with basketball or how you play the game. I think that people need to realize that. And once we do that, we’ll start to figure out everything out in the world, maybe become a better place, if people start accepting people for who they are.”
I’m not someone who says you should feel like you have to talk about your personal life (and that goes for anyone), but I feel like if choose to, it should be assumed that it will be accepted respectfully. If one of your teammates comes out, or if you come out to your teammates, I hope that the environment is one like these women of the WNBA seem to cultivate.
Being part of a team is like being part of a family, and I love that these women seem to be accepting not only of sexual orientation, but just people free to be themselves. That’s how teams build trust and while sexuality doesn’t really affect your team’s dynamic, trusting each other does.
Brittney herself told SI that she hopes that she can be an inspiration to girls in similar situations. I think she definitely is, but I think any woman in the WNBA regardless of sexual orientation can still be a positive LGBT example by just continuing to create an accepting environment and focus their energy of becoming strong basketball teams.
I know Sports Illustrated talked about this in relation to men’s sports versus women’s sports – and yes, there is especially a lot of homophobia in sports – but I say we should look even bigger. If sports organizations like the WNBA can cultivate an accepting environment, why can’t schools? Why can’t workplaces? The attitudes these athletes take shouldn’t just be a model for sexuality in sports, but just general acceptance overall.
What did you think about these athletes’ quotes about sports and sexuality? Is your sports team accepting of athletes of all sexual orientations? Tell us in the comments!