Wed, Jul 10, 2019 - Page 16 News List

US’ Women’s World Cup win a triumph for gay people

AFP, WASHINGTON

The US women’s soccer team’s FIFA World Cup victory is an especially huge win for the lineup’s gay players, who have spoken proudly of their sexual orientation in a sport where homosexuality is still a taboo.

“Go gays,” said US striker Megan Rapinoe, who was awarded the Soulier d’Or and Ballon d’Or and who scored one of the side’s winning goals in the final on Sunday.

“You can’t win a championship without gays on your team — it’s never been done before, ever. That’s science, right there,” she added.

The statement might have been tongue in cheek, but it still carried significance, said Dawn Ennis of Outsports, a media outlet specializing in sexual minorities in sports.

“Being authentic, being yourself, being true makes you a better person,” Ennis said. “It must make you a better athlete when you are not worrying about hiding a secret about who you are.”

Soccer federations “need to make sure that players are their authentic selves,” said Ryan Adams, president of the North American Gay Soccer Association, which pushes for the inclusion of LGBTQ members in US soccer. “When people are their own authentic selves, they are not distracted about being in the closet.”

Rapinoe is far from being the only openly gay member of the team. As well as coach Jill Ellis, five of the US world champions are lesbians, including Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger, who are engaged and are soon to marry.

Their defeated opponents, the Netherlands, also had five lesbian players in their lineup.

According to Outsports, about 40 of the women who played in the World Cup are members of the LGBTQ community.

Adams predicts that the trend would continue to grow, saying: “They showed other countries that have closeted people and athletes that you can be your most authentic self and play among the best. It does amazing things for visibility.”

That visibility — partly due to the World Cup coinciding with massive Gay Pride parades around the world — was enhanced by the tournament being the most-watched in the history of women’s soccer.

“I’m motivated by people like me, who are fighting for the same things,” Rapinoe said. “I take more energy from that than from trying to prove anyone wrong. That’s draining on yourself, but for me, to be gay and fabulous during Pride month at the World Cup is nice.”

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