10.27.2005

more congratulations

Congratulations to WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes on coming out as a lesbian.
Houston Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes is opening up about being a lesbian, telling a magazine that she's "tired of having to hide my feelings about the person I care about."

Swoopes, honored last month as the WNBA's Most Valuable Player, told ESPN The Magazine for a story on newsstands Wednesday that she didn't always know she was gay and fears that coming out could jeopardize her status as a role model.

"Do I think I was born this way? No," Swoopes said. "And that's probably confusing to some, because I know a lot of people believe that you are."

Swoopes, who was married and has an 8-year-old son, said her 1999 divorce "wasn't because I'm gay."

She said her reason for coming out now is merely because she wants to be honest.

"It's not something that I want to throw in people's faces. I'm just at a point in my life where I'm tired of having to pretend to be somebody I'm not," the 34-year-old Swoopes said. "I'm tired of having to hide my feelings about the person I care about. About the person I love."

A release from ESPN The Magazine about the story did not disclose the identity of Swoopes' partner.

A five-time All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist, Swoopes is the WNBA's only three-time MVP. She played for the Comets during their run of four championships from 1997-2000, but missed the 2001 season with a knee injury.

She said her biggest worry about her revelation is that people will be afraid to look up to her.

"I don't want that to happen," she said. "Being gay has nothing to do with the three gold medals or the three MVPs or the four championships I've won. I'm still the same person. I'm Sheryl."

Swoopes led the WNBA in scoring last year, averaging 18.6 points. She also averaged 4.3 assists and 2.65 steals while making 85 percent of her free throws and playing a league-high 37.1 minutes a game.

She said it "irritates" her that no one talks about gays playing in men's sports, but that it's become an issue in the WNBA.

"Sexuality and gender don't change anyone's performance on the court," she said. "Women play just as hard as guys do. We're just as competitive."
Hey Sheryl, it irritates me, too. Female athletes are put in a convoluted double-bind. If male athletes can't be gay because they're too manly, female athletes have to be gay because they're so manly. Or some shit like that. Many female athletes feel pressure to constantly display their femininity and heterosexuality. If they are queer, they're confirming the worst, so they'd better stay in the closet. Props to Swoopes for just being herself.

I love that she's not denying her hetero past and succumbing to the "born that way" trap. Sure, you might be born that way, and that's fine. But what if you're not? What if you just fell in love or lust, and decided to go with it - and it happened to be with someone of the same gender? You know what? That's ok, too.

Professional athletes who come out are pioneers, blazing trails for future generations. I await the first male professional athlete - in a team sport - who comes out while he's still playing. I can't wait for him to rock the world.

22 comments:

James said...

I love that she's not denying her hetero past and succumbing to the "born that way" trap. Sure, you might be born that way, and that's fine. But what if you're not? What if you just fell in love or lust, and decided to go with it - and it happened to be with someone of the same gender?

Then you're bi. :)

L-girl said...

Don't even get me started! :)

All these people who are married to someone of the opposite gender, not miserable, not suffering, then fall in love with someone of the same gender, and declare they are gay...! Folks, there is another option!! It's not either/or - it's a spectrum...!!

*sigh*

Can't expect miracles, eh?

James said...

Folks, there is another option!! It's not either/or - it's a spectrum...!!

It can take a loooong time to figure out that the option exists.

L-girl said...

Yes indeedy. Plus, so many people just flat-out don't believe it exists, so they certainly won't see it.

Our society is so intent on dualities - either/or, black/white, gay/straight. Since it's hard enough to come out if you're in the public eye, I think it's just easier to say you're all one or all the other.

James said...

Yes indeedy. Plus, so many people just flat-out don't believe it exists, so they certainly won't see it.

There was a great bit in an early issue of Omaha: The Cat Dancer back in the 80s:

-- "I suspect Chuck's more to your taste."
-- "What? How did you know...?"
-- "I didn't, but... it takes one to know one."
-- "I see... You're gay?"
-- "Bi. That means everyone thinks I'm a pervert."

Our society is so intent on dualities - either/or, black/white, gay/straight.

The Republic of T mentioned a bizarre question he's apparently often asked: "What are you first, black or gay?" That's kind of like asking, "What are you first, blond or right-handed?" (Or in the case of the people asking the question, "What are you first, tactless or stupid?")

L-girl said...

"What are you first, black or gay?"

Ewww. That is so offensive, it just reeks.

(Or in the case of the people asking the question, "What are you first, tactless or stupid?")

LOL. Oh, there's no choosing between those two!

Lone Primate said...

I remember having a long snail-mail argument with a correspondent in NYC (who claims to have invented the term "gay pride" in the 1970s) about ten years ago about bisexuality. He claimed there was no such thing; that a person was either heterosexual or homosexual, and "bisexuals" were homosexuals who were afraid to commit. I told him this was like saying a person could like vanilla or chocolate, but not both... cheddar or brie, but not both... white wine or rum, but not both... Patently absurd. A person likes what a person likes, and those tastes are not required to accord to someone else's tastes reflected in their arbitrary categorizations. A "spectrum" is entirely the right choice of words.

L-girl said...

And "arbitrary categorizations" is the right choice of words, too. Human behaviour is so gloriously varied. Why would sexuality be boiled down to only two choices?

"bisexuals" were homosexuals who were afraid to commit.

The other stereotype is "straight and bored".

If boredom changed sexual orientation... can you imagine?!

a correspondent in NYC (who claims to have invented the term "gay pride" in the 1970s)

!!! I wonder if that could be true.

G said...

Those who boil life down to a series of either-ors are, in my mind, seriously afraid, or perhaps ashamed (though shame is an extension of fear), of one option or the other.

It's so simple, the notion of the spectrum ... and so infuriating when people refuse to consider the possibility that choices exist well beyond an either or for one aspect of life, but readily accept the notion for other aspects of life they feel more secure about. Lone Primate is right - the chocolate/vanilla analogy is no different. If you don't have to choose there, why does one have to choose when it comes to sex?

I may choose to hetero, but I do not find it difficult to recognize that the other choices exist and everyone is free to choose which is best for themselves ... and I have a difficult time wrapping my head around how others can simply shut that part of their minds off, and refuse to even acknowledge that such a choice exists. Perhaps for fear that acknowledgement, just thinking of it, would mean they made that choice. That old myth.

Liam J said...

I find the fact that we dwell on a persons sexuality at all as puzzling. Honestly, how does something that the average person spends less than one third of one percent of their time(and I'm being generous here) manage to define who they are?

L-girl said...

Those who boil life down to a series of either-ors are, in my mind, seriously afraid, or perhaps ashamed (though shame is an extension of fear), of one option or the other.

Well said, G.

I find the fact that we dwell on a persons sexuality at all as puzzling. Honestly, how does something that the average person spends less than one third of one percent of their time(and I'm being generous here) manage to define who they are?

I also find the emphasis on it from the homophobes bizarre and puzzling. But as long as people are being denied equality because of this identity, we have to focus on it.

But I'm not sure sexual orientation is only about who a person has sex with. A person can be totally celibate and still be gay, straight or bi. A bisexual person can be in a monogamous relationship, and still be bi. There are identity issues, I think. They're not the ultimate definition of a person, but they are part of a their identity.

That's my view, anyway.

Marnie said...

And taking it one step further than celibacy, even, there are people who identify as straight asexuals (straight 'A's!), gay asexuals, bi asexuals ...

L-girl said...

Which brings us back around to humans as gloriously diverse...

Wrye said...

or gloriously perverse, as the case may be. If i can find a fetish store just walking down the street on holiday in Saskatoon, there's hope for anywhere...

James said...

Swoopes isn't the only one: Mr. Sulu just came out publicly (though he's been with his partner for 18 years).

I always did enjoy his running around shirtless and oiled up in "The Naked Time". :)

L-girl said...

George Takei is way cool. I'm sure you know, he's been outspoken about the Japanese-American internment camps, with the groups pushing for reparations and an official apology. His family was part of the "relocation".

Thanks for the link, now I like him even more.

I remember that episode, too. Spock hanging from a tree. :)

James said...

George Takei is way cool.

I met him once, very briefly, while doing security at the Toronto Trek convention. :)

I remember that episode, too. Spock hanging from a tree. :)

Nope, that was a different episode, "This Side of Paradise". "Naked Time" was the one where the crew is affected by a mind altering infection on the ship -- in "This Side of Paradise", it's a mind altering infection on a planet. :)

Probably the most memorable bit from "Naked Time", after Sulu running around with a rapier, is crewman Riley singing "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen" one! more! time!

L-girl said...

or gloriously perverse, as the case may be.

Diverse in its perversity and perverse in its diversity...

L-girl said...

Nope, that was a different episode, "This Side of Paradise".

Oh right! I like that one a lot. But then, I like almost all of them. (Although I'm just a casual fan.)

Probably the most memorable bit from "Naked Time", after Sulu running around with a rapier, is crewman Riley singing "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen" one! more! time!

LOL, oh yes, now I know which one you mean.

Cool that you met Takei? Did you meet other original cast members?

James said...

Cool that you met Takei? Did you meet other original cast members?

Not up close. Takei's the only one that I spoke to, and that was only a brief greeting. I was pleased that he greeted me, even though I was a lowly con redshirt guarding the door at his panel. I was so flustered I had trouble thinking of a response to his "Hello! How are you enjoying the con?"

L-girl said...

Hee hee. That's great. He's clearly a good guy.

Of course that first question mark was a typo. "Cool that you met Takei" was not a question.

James said...

Hee hee. That's great. He's clearly a good guy.

My favourite George Takei quote was from an interview when someone asked him if he found himself being typecast after Star Trek. He said, "Well, I do find that I'm almost always cast as Japanese."