Brittney Griner feeling comfortable enough to come out shortly after being drafted into the pros shows how far we’ve come in the battle for the acceptance of gay athletes. But in a recent ESPN interview, she revealed that she may have wanted to come out sooner. For more perspective on this story, check out Out Sports’ storystream about Griner coming out.
Regardless of how people view her announcement, any time someone has to reveal a personal detail on his or her life, it’s just not going to be easy, especially when that person is one of the most notable athletes in college athletics, and now the WNBA.
Plenty of media outlets have put out pieces regarding the significance of Griner’s coming out including this by ESPN’s Jemele Hill and this from ESPN’s Kate Fagan. In Fagan’s piece in particular, perhaps Griner’s coming out last week wasn’t so much of a coming out, rather than just verbally acknowledging the way she chooses to live considering that she told ESPN that she was “open about [her] sexuality” before then.
As WNBA fans probably know, there are some negative stereotypes of the league, such as “all of the players look like men,” etc., and maybe with Griner coming out, this may confirm some of the things that “WNBA haters” want to believe. In the comments and reactions of many pieces regarding Griner’s announcement, there were definitely some who already said things to the effect of “I’d be surprised if she were straight.” or that “she’s still a man.” And as we pointed out in a piece last year, such comments are despicable.
In men’s sports, though it seems like we’re still a long way from seeing openly gay players in the “Big Four” Leagues (NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL), former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo intimated that as many as four NFL players who are “in the closet” are considering coming out simultaneously. Whether those players all come out this year at the same time and/or whenever another player in one of the other “Big Four” leagues does the same, that will be a big day. I hope the players who do this will also be happy about who they are, and keep most of their attention toward the game they play, though I also have to acknowledge that it will be hard to do, especially early on.
In summary, in regards to Brittney’s coming out, I personally admire the way that she did it, because she is not afraid of who she is. Confidence in one’s self is one of the most important characteristics that a person needs, especially in today’s society. In addition, I’m also happy that she’s focusing most of her attention to basketball and with the Phoenix Mercury, because as a basketball fan, I want to see how her skill set will change the WNBA game, and also how her team bounces back from last year’s campaign.