Megan Rapinoe, an absurdly talented and hard-working player on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and Autostraddle Hot 100 Number 11 has always been private about her sexuality. A couple of months ago, Rapinoe said some things in an interview and more or less outed herself, but she never made a clear-cut, official statement about it. With so few openly gay athletes competing on the professional level, it seemed unlikely that Pinoe would (or had to) specifically talk about her perceived lesbianism.
The lesson here is that you should never underestimate Megan Rapinoe.
In an interview with Out Magazine, Rapinoe officially became the first soccer player on the current U.S. Women’s National Team to publicly come out as a lesbian, and there was great rejoicing throughout the land. In the interview, Rapinoe leaves no room for ambiguity:
Rapinoe has decided to pull off another landmark in women’s soccer: to come out and publicly discuss her sexuality.
“I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” she says. “I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.”
Not that Rapinoe has been hiding anything; it’s just that no one ever asked her directly. “I think they were trying to be respectful and that it’s my job to say, ‘I’m gay.’ Which I am. For the record: I am gay,” she says. In fact, Rapinoe’s been dating her girlfriend, an Australian soccer player, for three years, and even brought her home to visit her family in Northern California last Christmas.
She doesn’t get to see her girlfriend that often, however, since the life of a world-class soccer player is mainly spent traveling, which means that her teammates are akin to her closest family. Luckily, Rapinoe feels women’s teams are generally more accepting. “In female sports, if you’re gay, most likely your team knows it pretty quickly,” she says. “It’s very open and widely supported. For males, it’s not that way at all. It’s sad.”
So. There you have it. You have to respect someone who’s willing to come out in the middle of some serious preparation for the Olympics. Still, the public image of the U.S. women’s team has become considerably more queer since the old-school glory days of 1999, and it’s possible or even likely that Rapinoe’s coming out party will be the first of many for the team.
In short: Four for you, Megan Rapinoe. You go, Megan Rapinoe.