Jason Collins Is Not the First Out Gay Pro Athlete

WNBA's Brittney Griner at the 2012 ESPY Awards. <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-564025p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Helga Esteb</a>/<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Although his coming out in Sports Illustrated is big news, NBA star Jason Collins is not the “first openly gay athlete in professional North American team sports,” as some have claimed. Claiming as much implies that either women’s sports don’t matter as much (or don’t exist at all), or that coming out is somehow less of a big deal for professional athletes who happen to be women. Here are just a few of them:

  • Retired WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes, who came out in 2005 when she played for the Houston Comets. (She later married a man.)
  • Brittney Griner of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
  • Chamique Holdsclaw, former WNBA player most recently with the San Antonio Silver Stars.
  • Megan Rapinoe, member of the US Women’s National Team, now playing soccer professionally in France.
  • Lori Lindsey, USWNT member in the 2012 Olympics who currently plays for the Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League.

There have also been a number of out stars in individual sports—including Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova in tennis and Orlando Cruz, a professional boxer.

There have also been other male professional athletes in team sports who have come out, even if they’re not in the “big four” professional sports—like Andrew Goldstein, the goalie for Major League Lacrosse’s Long Island Lizards.

 

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate