Entertainment Weekly just had a big story on the new art of coming out—quietly, almost as an afterthought. And it takes nearly 300 words into Out's story on U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe to touch on her oreintation. And even then it's subtle, almost as if an athlete's sexuality isn't their defining feature. Fancy that.
"I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out," she says. "I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol' U.S. of A."
It's a surprise to no one, because even if Rapinoe hasn't previously felt the need to announce to the world who she likes to have sex with, she hasn't hid it either. After scoring at the World Cup last summer, she rushed to the stands and planted a kiss on an "unidentified fan," as the AP photo caption had it. (
It's likely that was Rapinoe's girlfriend of three years, an Australian soccer player. [Correction, July 4: Never mind. It was her mom.]) Just a couple month ago, in response to a question about gay athletes, Rapinoe responded "We're out there."
This will change precisely nothing in the locker room, as Rapinoe and the USWNT head to London for the Olympics.
"In female sports, if you're gay, most likely your team knows it pretty quickly," she says. "It's very open and widely supported. For males, it's not that way at all. It's sad."
And that's why this news will likely be greeted with a yawn: an openly gay female athlete almost isn't news. A lesbian in the locker room conforms to a stereotype, just as a straight male athlete is a stereotype. Even if people like Lisa Leslie vehemently deny their ubiquity, we're no longer shocked when our muscular, short-haired female athletes announce they're gay. Self-outings like Rapinoe's are good, striking yet another in a series of small blows for honesty and acceptance. But since sports, even women's sports, are perceived as the most masculine of pastimes, it's going to take a gay man in the Big Four before we can hold a real, painful, educational debate, and show that that stereotype, like all others, isn't close to universally true.
Fever Pitch [Out]