In a excellent interview on Autostraddle that was published today, USWNT midfielder Lori Lindsey became the second current member of the team to come out publicly about her sexuality. There's a lot more great stuff in the interview of course, but that's the big headline that most people are running with.
The on-going struggle for members of LGBT community and their supporters is well documented and we all no doubt have our feelings about the issue in a political context. The sports of soccer, especially women's soccer, in America is quickly becoming a more progressive place and is acting as a trendsetter in many ways in how it deals with gay and lesbian athletes. It's not perfect, but it's farther along that other sports...you know who you are.
It's immensely positive that we're reaching a point in this country where openly gay and lesbian athletes are slowly, but surely, feeling comfortable and safe enough to be open about their sexuality. As a soccer fan and writer, it's a nice feeling that the sport I love and cover is moving towards the forefront of this, led in large part by members of the USWNT.
Wins and losses are great, trophies are even better, but to have our women's national team playing a leading role in putting more faces on the LGBT movement is something I'm extremely proud of. It may not seem like much, but when openly gay athletes are received in a positive way by soccer fans, it shows all those who are still struggling with a very personal decision that when they are ready, the support will be there for them.
There's of course a lot more cool stuff in the interview, in fact, I'm assigning it to you as homework so get reading! Just kidding...maybe. Lori discuss a number of topics including her Olympic experience, her friendship with Megan Rapinoe, the need for a professional women's league in the country and much more.
Lori commented on out-going head coach Pia Sundhage's (also out publicly) wardrode tendencies:
Besides the fact that she never wears a bra and we have Dri-Fit Nike everything? That's an issue. [laughs] We're on national television and she's jumping up and down without a bra! It's awesome that she doesn't have a bra -- I'm all for that. Maybe if you had a stylish tank top on, that'd be ok, but not Dri-Fit at a soccer game!
On whether or not she experienced discrimination due to her sexuality:
No, I actually haven't. I'm not really sure why I haven't -- I don't know if the soccer world is just a little more accepting. I don't know if being a lesbian woman to younger males is exciting or something? I don't know. But I haven't experienced any backlash at all. I'm sure there could be some going on behind my back, but no discrimination that I'm aware of.
In one of my favorite parts of the interview, she talks about if she was pissed that Megan Rapinoe beat her to coming out publicly:
I'm fucking pissed! I am so angry! I was like, "Oh... I'm so supportive... I'm going to pull a Tonya Harding on you when you're not looking! You know I'm gayer than you are, this is not fair." No, I think Megan is a wonderful role model for anybody -- for straights, gays, everybody. So more power to her. I'm just proud that I can follow in her footsteps. [laughs] ...I'm just kidding.
Lori also has some good thoughts about the need for a professional women's league in the US:
There seems to be some interest from quite a few teams right now, but I also think maybe latching on to the MLS if they're interested could be a possibility. It took a while for the MLS to get going and now look at it. I think they have 19 teams and it's huge. They're doing really well, which is great for soccer in America in general.
I also think we need to be honest: we need owners with deep pockets who are willing to put in the money. I think, from our end, we need athletes that are patient and know that we can be a part of something special, but we're not going to be the ones necessarily getting rich off this.
Alright, I don't want to plagiarize the excellent interview by Lora on Autostraddle, so go check it out for yourself, there's plenty more to enjoy.
Congrats to Lori for being brave enough to come out and good on the American soccer community for being a place that's helping stories like this happen.