Brittney Griner was the number one draft pick in the WNBA this year. She concluded her four years at Baylor University as the all-time scorer in women’s NCAA history with 3,283 points. Additionally, she has destroyed both the men’s and women’s NCAA record with 748 blocks. Plus, she has a record number of dunks with 18, including 11 this season alone.
She is also gay. She has never been secretive about her sexuality, but now that she has been spending so much time in the limelight, the matter has been made extremely public. In her recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Griner casually shrugs off her decision to come out to the masses. She claims, “… 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.”
Other WNBA players chimed in with Sports Illustrated to provide support for Griner. Elena Delle Donne says, in reference to NBA athletes, “Hopefully the men can one day adopt that same attitude that we have.” And Skylar Diggins makes another valid point when she says, “It has nothing to do with basketball or how you play the game.”
It has been said that women are generally more accepting. This is especially evident when it comes to accepting gays and bisexuals. Gallup poles have statistically proven that women are more likely than men to support same-sex marriages and legal rights for gays and lesbians. Perhaps it is because we, as women, are more compassionate, open-minded, and kind hearted. Our maternal instincts to accept others for who they are- because after all, everyone is somebody’s child- help us to be less judgmental of other people’s life choices.
Griner’s “easy” decision to come out and all of the positive reactions and support from her teammates and fans ought to pave the way for the younger generations of gays and bisexuals to be proud of who they are and not feel ashamed about their sexuality. Hopefully Griner’s “Just be who you are” catch phrase will influence all of our national athletes, men and women alike. In a world where professional sports are often dominated by masculinity and testosterone, Griner can set the bar high for flaunting your individuality. By having gay professional athletes as role models, we are all making progress together towards a world where the bigots are greatly outnumbered by accepting individuals.
Contributed by Allison Cohn