Did you feel it this morning? The disturbance in the universe created by all the queer souls trying to escape their bodies at the news that WNBA superstar Sue Bird is dating USWNT superstar Megan Rapinoe? The disturbance was brought forth by ESPN’s wide-ranging, candid interview and profile with Bird, who has remained pretty quiet about her personal life throughout her career. It was both surprising and exhilarating to hear her simply say, “I’m gay. Megan’s my girlfriend.”
In the article, Bird opens up about dating Rapinoe; the two got together last fall, which is probably part of the reason the world didn’t entirely fall apart after the election, because there was still invisible LGBT magic holding it together at the seams.
Legendary women’s basketball writer Mechelle Voepel opens her profile with what Sue Bird is wearing the same way all profiles of famous women establish what they look like, but it’s glorious, and it’s for us. “She wears a ‘Femme Forever’ T-shirt, jeans and white Chucks. Dressed up or dressed down — even in her practice togs — her look is effortless.”
Voepel does a really nice job explaining Bird’s reticence to come out not as a shame issue, but more of a personal decision from a naturally private person (though Bird and the writer do touch on the very real issues of homophobia, sexism, and racism in professional sports).
“It’s happening when it’s happening because that’s what feels right,” Bird says. “So even though I understand there are people who think I should have done it sooner, it wasn’t right for me at the time. I have to be true to that. It’s my journey.”
Bird’s journey started at UConn when she realized she was gay, but she didn’t talked about it then, not even with her bestie and teammate Diana Taurasi, who just came out when she married retired WNBA player Penny Taylor in May. Bird and Taurasi only finally discussed their sexuality in the mid-2000s when they were playing together in Russia.
Bird said she was tempted to come out during the 2016 Olympics, but “chickened out.” She almost added it as #25 on a publicity questionnaire that asked her to write 25 things most people didn’t know about her. Then she heard it from the mouths of babes, one babe in fact: Elena Delle Donne, her Olympic teammate and Chicago Sky first-round-pick who also casually came out in a 2016 just ahead of the Olympics. She saw how easily Delle Donne, 26, chatted about her fiancée, Amanda Clifton, and was comforted by how ordinary it was.
Of course Rapinoe is adorable throughout the interview, talking about how Sue Bird is her rock. And Bird speaks very plainly about how she enjoys her girlfriend’s passion.
The rest of the article is great, showing many facets of Bird’s life (I especially love her relationship with her best friend from childhood). According to teammate Lauren Jackson, Bird is always right and impossible to argue with.
I remember seeing Sue and Megan on TV in the crowd at a sporting event somewhere and thinking, “Holy smokes what if they’re together,” quickly followed with “Noooo, no way. It would be too much. They’re too beautiful and muscle-y and I am not sure we’re ready as a people yet.” But ready or not, this is real news in the real world. Two poster-worthy sports babes who have probably graced the bedrooms of a few readers and writers at Autostraddle, living and loving and shooting gay hoops together.