Brittney Griner is not the first WNBA athlete to come out as gay, but she is probably the most prominent. Griner was one of the most dominant college basketball players of all time during her career at Baylor. As expected, she was selected by the Phoenix Mercury with the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft on Monday.
During an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Maggie Gray on Wednesday, Griner publicly acknowledged that she is a lesbian. While it was the first time she had ever discussed her sexuality so openly, Griner said it was not difficult because it is something she has always embraced and was not trying to hide.
“It really wasn’t too difficult, I wouldn’t say I was hiding or anything like that,” Griner said. “I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn’t hard at all. If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”
For whatever reason, society has made it so that it would be more difficult for a male athlete to come out than a female athlete. That’s not to say Griner’s willingness to be open about her sexuality is any less courageous, but the issue of machismo comes into play when dealing with a sport like football. That is why there has yet to be an openly gay player on a current NFL roster.
Griner said she can’t exactly pinpoint what the difference is between women and men coming out in sports.
“I really couldn’t give an answer on why that’s so different,” she said. “Being one that’s out, it’s just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”
Unfortunately, comments like these from NFL players have made it feel like it is impossible for gay male athletes be who they are without facing backlash. That being said, Griner can still serve as a role model for the LGBT community. Hearing one of the best female basketball players in the world openly discuss her sexuality will almost certainly serve as an inspiration for some.Google+