Last weekend, the 2020 WNBA season tipped off with six games in two days. You know what that means: professional basketball is back, baby. What it also means: the hottest, most talented queers are playing basketball on your teevee for the next two months. If you’re anything like me, you’d follow attractive queers into fire if they asked you to. But you don’t even have to risk life and limb to support queer women from your couch by watching them play basketball (or just check out their asses while they shoot free throws, I’m not here to judge).
The WNBA is objectively the gayest professional sports league. They have a very large number of openly queer players, coaches, and executives. They have Pride initiatives that go beyond symbolic gestures involving rainbow tape (and they definitely don’t have Sean Spicer throw out the first pitch at their Pride Games — looking at you, Minor League Baseball). Their new collective bargaining agreement has queer-inclusive family planning benefits.
And as a result of the gaggles of lesbians on the court, it means that queer aesthetics are front and center in the WNBA. They are celebrated and allowed to exist. In a world where masculine-of-center women are not often visible, they are showing off their game day outfits, in all their swaggy glory (though there’s femme magic here, too!).
Though I am a sports writer, I had never really watched basketball before two years ago. I mostly covered and followed baseball, and larger cultural issues at the intersection of sports and gender. But I was tired of watching Major League Baseball, a league whose players, I was pretty sure, would hate me as a person. It felt harder and harder to put aside parts of my identity — woman, queer, survivor of violence — to try to enjoy the sport I loved. I decided to attend my first WNBA game, alone, in 2018. I drove to Connecticut to watch the Sun play the New York Liberty on a Wednesday morning.
The crowd was so queer and so joyful; I ended up sitting with a group of older lesbians who spent the entire game heckling the refs. I couldn’t take my eyes off Courtney Williams, who was putting on a show on the court, but who had a bit of magic to her and a look I recognized as unabashedly — and unquestionably — queer (which I later got to talk to her about when I profiled her the next season). I couldn’t stop watching her because she was good at basketball, but I also saw an affinity in her (and yes, fine, she’s totally my type with her butchy swagger). I was hooked.
When it comes to queer women in sports, the women of the U.S. National Soccer Team tend to get a lot of our attention. But the women of the WNBA get largely ignored by queer communities, especially when it comes to thirsting after them, and I can’t help but think there’s some racism in that. We should be as excited by these queers and lesbians as we are about Megan Rapinoe and Ashlyn Harris!
This column aims to show you what you’ve been missing by not watching these women and, if you have, I hope you’ll find the queer lens on the league you’ve been looking for here. We’ll cover real stuff, like the fact that the WNBA is the only professional league to ensure their social justice work is trans inclusive, alongside lighter stuff, like thirst traps and queer Daddy content.
Whether you come for the basketball and queer aesthetics are a bonus, or you come for the daddies who will wreck you and get some basketball on the side, there has never been a better time to get into the W and support queer women athletes. This is a condensed season because pandemic, taking place in the Wubble — women’s bubble — in Bradenton, Florida. There are two game courts and no fans, which has so far made for a lot of fun listening to the coaches and players yell at each other. More games than ever before are airing on national stations, so the league is more accessible than ever before.
In case you’re new to the game, here’s a quick guide to choosing the gayest team to root for this season.
The Mystics are coming into the 2020 season as the reigning champs, but have been considered a bit of an underdog since most of their superstar players have chosen to opt out of this season — including queer players Natasha Cloud, who is pursuing the fight for racial justice, and last season’s MVP Elena Delle Donne, who is sitting out for health reasons. But the superstars sitting out have given some lesser known bench players a chance to shine and, one week into the season, they seem to be stepping up into their new roles quite well. It’s a locker room that created a safe enough space for Aerial Powers to feel like she could come out last season, and she and her current girlfriend are creating some killer vlogs from the Wubble.
New York Liberty
The Liberty have objectively the best color scheme in the league, so you can guarantee you’ll look great in their merch (this is a big selling point, if you ask me). They are also a very young team — including Sabrina Ionescu, the most anticipated rookie in years — who may need to find their footing this season but should be fantastic in the coming years (you can say you were a fan of them when!). They also have a solid veteran presence in Layshia Clarendon, a gender nonconforming, queer player who heads up the Social Justice Committee and was a huge part of ensuring that queer-inclusion in the league’s new CBA.
I’m probably biased, but I’m just here to watch Alyssa Thomas run over opponents like a semi-truck and desperately wish it were me on the receiving end of her wallop. Look, she plays with an intensity that’s unmatched, has “choke me daddy” energy to her off-court style choices, and seems like she’d probably run you over if you asked nicely enough. What’s not to love? If AT’s swagger isn’t your thing, don’t worry! The Sun are also home to coach Curt Miller, the first openly gay man to coach a professional sports team.
This is the content we need. I am here for alllllllll of this!
— Layshia Clarendon (@Layshiac) July 27, 2020
The Sky are the team that a lot of people might sleep on, but you shouldn’t do that. They lost in last year’s playoffs to an absolutely bonkers shot from the Aces’ Daerica Hamby and are out to prove themselves this season. They’re also home to adorable married couple, teammates two-time All-Star Courtney Vandersloot, who holds the all-time WNBA record for most assists in a season, and three-time All-Star Allie Quigley (known together as #VanderQuigz). Oh, and center Stefanie Dolson, queen of hard femme realness and giving love to Black trans folks on her game-day shoes, who is recovering from coronavirus but is in the Wubble.
The Dream are a new-look team this season, as many of their long-time players found new homes, while others are opting out for the season. They’ve made headlines for owner Kelly Loeffler’s open racism and bigotry, but the players have been outspoken in condemning her stance on, well, pretty much everything. Look for Courtney Williams, playing for her hometown team, to make a big impact (she also makes music and made a very gay video for her first single, “Shiesty B*tch,” starring her then-girlfriend, YouTuber Glamazontay) when she joins her team.
The Mercury have some of the best to ever play the game on their roster, and they also happen to be very outspoken about being very gay. Diana Taurasi, one of the greatest to ever play the game and the absolute queen of trash talk, is married to former WNBA player Penny Taylor, and center Brittney Griner has been one of the most outspoken players on the court regarding LGBTQ+ rights. They should be one of the best in the league, but their defense has looked shaky to start the season; hopefully they’ll shake off the rust and dominate the way they’re expected to.
The Storm are a safe choice for your favorite team because they are very good at basketball. They also have Sue Bird, who everyone knows is the GOAT, and who most queers know is partnered with soccer star Megan Rapinoe. Together they are the most decorated sports couple of all time (I’m too lazy to verify this but I will fight you if you disagree), and separately, 39-year-old Bird is superhuman.
Los Angeles Sparks
Come for Brittney Sykes in her “Daddy” hat, stay for veteran Seimone Augustus’ shoe collection and her teammates calling her “grandma.” That’s it, that’s the entire gay case for following the Sparks: Brittney Sykes in her “Daddy” hat with her knee tattoos and her incredible ability to play defense and also bring a spark (sorry) to the offensive side of the court.
Another team that could come out and surprise everyone this year is Dallas. They’re great because their mascot is a pegasus, which is inspired and original. More teams should wear mythical creatures on their jerseys, imo. Mythical creatures are very gay. From a strictly basketball standpoint, they’re another young team who is still coming into themselves, but look for Arike Ogunbowale to really find her footing in her second year in the league, and number 2 draft pick, rookie Satou Sabally, to make her mark.
If you want to get chaotic, the Fever are a good team to root for, mostly because they’re not expected to be near the top of the standings this year but hey, everyone loves an underdog story. Case in point: the Fever are home to Erica Wheeler, the only undrafted player to be MVP at an All-Star game and very, very stylish dresser. She’s not in the Wubble yet, but she will be soon. They also have veteran Candice Dupree, who has been married to the Sun’s DeWanna Bonner since 2016 and shoots very pretty three-pointers.
The Lynx are a classic choice. They’re something of a dynasty in the W, and have coach Cheryl Reeve, who I love for being mouthy and calling out misogyny and disrespect of women’s basketball wherever she sees it (and for putting together an all-women’s coaching staff). Assistant Coach (and WNBA legend in her own right) Rebekah Brunson likes to post very cute pictures of her wife and baby.
Las Vegas Aces
The Aces are without some of their stars this year, who have opted out of the season but that doesn’t mean they’re not good. In fact, this is a team with players who can hurt you up and down the roster. If you’re in it for the eye candy, may I suggest Danielle Robinson’s soft daddy aesthetics?
I’ll see you next week and, here, have Myisha Hines-Allen’s arms, as a treat:
Float like a butterfly, get buckets like Myisha pic.twitter.com/k9oqC99yMU
— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) July 29, 2020
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