The Sports That Made You Gay, Ranked

Deep in the heart of Slack, our dear contributor Siobhan asked: “What’s the difference between baseball and softball?” Her curiosity led us to a fruitful discussion about the gendering of sports, which made me realize: Hey! I think basketball made me gay! And I couldn’t help but wonder… do all sports make you gay? Because I value the scientific process, I’ve compiled a ranked list of the 28 sports most likely to be played in one’s youth that will make you grow up to be a big ol’ queer.

According to our most recent Lesbian Stereotypes survey, about 40% of you have played one of these sports at one point in your life, and I’m not a scientist, but that data feels convincing! Are you one of the 40%? Which sport did you play? Are you queer now? See? Proof! I’d also like to shout out the team managers of these sports, because according to staff members Carrie and Jenna, managing a team is even gayer than being on a team. (Also, honorable mention goes out to curling, which according to Kayla is a gay sport.)


28. Archery

Amanda from A-Camp X led an archery workshop, and just knowing it existed definitely made me feel more gay. Is it a coincidence that immediately upon getting a girlfriend, Cheryl Blossom became a master archer?

27. Beach Volleyball

You can really only make beach volleyball gay through the transitive property.

26. Wrestling

The fact that it took GLOW two entire seasons to give us the littlest bit of lesbian action proves what a tragically straight sport it is.

25. Dance/Drill Team

I am… a lesbian. And so is Cadet Kelly.

24. Gymnastics

“Boobs.” – Missy Peregrym, Stick It

23. Cheer

“‘Brr, it’s cold in here, there must be some Toros in the atmosphere?’ I know you don’t think a white girl made that shit up. Our free cheer service is over as of this moment!'” GAY!

22. Speed Skating

This is queer Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst, whose Olympic and World Championship successes make Michael Phelps look like a little kid in a community swimming pool. Her victories, alone, makes speed skating relevant to this list.

21. Cycling

Bike culture is gay.

20. Marching Band

I told my high school best friend that “we can stop looking for cute guys for me” at a marching band competition. And it wasn’t even this marching band competition, which probably made every woman in the audience at least 33% gay.

19. Color Guard

The girls in the color guard were all buff, tall, babes who could dance. That’s like… 70% of A-Camp.

18. Swimming and Diving

Darling, it’s better down where it’s wetter, take it from me.

17. Ice Hockey

Y’all remember those lesbians-in-training from The Mighty Ducks? And that time the captains of the U.S. women’s hockey team and Canadian women’s hockey team got married in real life

16. Karate

The Next Karate Kid made every single girl who came of age in 1994 question her sexuality, and that’s a fact.

15. Volleyball

Terri Polo played one single volleyball match with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in Meet the Fockers and look what happened.

14. Synchronized Swimming

Men and boys literally were not allowed to do this sport for many years. It’s a breeding ground for lesbianism if you ask me. Also, Water Lilies is one of the best lesbian coming of age movies of all time.

13. Fencing

Is there anything more likely to make you grow up and become a lesbian than finding your long lost twin after you best her at a fencing match?

12. Field Hockey

I played field hockey because we got to wear skirts and hit people in the shins. It’s training in misandry. Also, this is Jodie Foster in Freaky Friday… in 1976. Come on.

11. Outdoor Track

TWO different Autostraddle staff (Staff Writer Raquel and Business and Design Director Sarah Sarwar) joined the track team in high school only to climb trees in the woods and hide while everyone else ran their miles! Also, Personal Best made Ellen DeGeneres gay, so.

10. Boxing/MMA

This is former MMA fighter Sharice Davids, who is queer and running for Congress in Kansas and fundraising at literal Stonewall, y’all.

9. Golf

Babe Didrikson, a known queer, is the greatest female athlete of all time behind Serena Williams (who is the greatest athlete of all time, period). She played and excelled at every sport, especially golf, which was her favorite place to showboat. Also, ever heard of Dinah Shore?

8. Baseball

C’mon Dottie, you ain’t on the farm any more, live a little bit!

7. Tennis

This pictorial evidence speaks for itself.

6. Football

Helen Hunt in Quarterback Princess is the reason so many lesbians in the mid ’80s figured it out.

5. Roller Derby

A sport so gay it has its own tag on Autostraddle dot com. Also I defy anyone to tell me Whip It isn’t a coming out movie.

4. Softball

Look, everyone knows softball is gay as a rainbow. There isn’t anyone who played little league softball who doesn’t have at least one former teammate who’s out now.

3. Soccer

Gaaaaaay without even mentioning Bend it Like Beckham.

2. Rugby

Everyone on everyone’s rugby team in college is gay and everyone knows it. It’s so gay no one’s even made a movie about it yet because the movie would just be called GAY: Every Rugby Story.

1. Basketball

Top, L to R: Sue Bird, Seimone Augusts, Elena Delle Donne, DeWanna Bonner, Angel McCoughtry. Bottom, L to R: Brittney Griner, Stefanie Dolson, Candice Dupree, Riese Bernard, Diana Taurasi.

I received more basketball pictures of young Autostraddle staff than any other sport. You will, in fact, find our editor in chief here among just a few of the openly gay women who’ve played in the WNBA.


Staff Testimonials

Top, L to R: Kayla, Jenna, Eli. Bottom, L to R: Cameron, Sarah, Stef.

+ “I started a poms squad and fell in love with my coach and I think that’s pretty gay.” – Sarah Sarwar, Business and Design Director

+ “Diving in high school was basically just me and one other girl. So, percentage-wise, diving was at least 50% gay.” – Cameron, Cartoonist

+ “A friend of mine I came out with during college swimming is now dating and U-hauled with my long-term ex (its fine everything is fine) and wrote a lovely essay on it.” – Eli, Technical Intern

+ “I played boys’ baseball for several years and was the only girl on the team, which was paradoxically very gay (of me). Later on I had to switch to girls’ softball, which was ironically much more heterosexual; lots of fretting about blowjob logistics while killing time on the bench.” – Rachel, Managing Editor

+ “I did varsity tennis and my doubles partner was also my rival. We had great chemistry on the court, wanted to murder each other off the court. (Gay)” – Kayla, Staff Writer

+ “Eight out of ten starters from my high school softball team are gay” – Heather Hogan, Senior Editor

+ “I played soccer from like second grade until sophomore year of high school. When I was younger I was good and often on boys teams, when I was older I was bad cuz I was skinny and uncoordinated” – Riese, CEO/EIC

+ “I went to every volleyball game my high school had to ‘support’ my ‘friend’ and definitely not to watch her, specifically. Actually, she’s bi now so” – Valerie, Staff Writer

+ “I played basketball literally because I knew there would be lesbians on the team. We may not have been out but there was lots of lesbian energy in every game tbh” – Alexis, Staff Writer


Okay, let’s fight about how wrong or right you think I am! Or even better, share your youth sports coming out stories!

Alaina is a 20-something working on a PhD in Performance as Public Practice. They are a mom to three cats, they listen to a lot of NPR and musicals, and they spend a lot of time on Pinterest lusting over studio apartments. They are actively trying to build A Brand on twitter @alainamonts. One day, they will be First Lady of the United States.

Al(aina) has written 226 articles for us.

88 Comments

      • USA has a men’s pro rugby league. Seattle won the league last year. But it’s not so much that rugby is a popular sport in the US (it’s not really), it’s that it’s a popular sport among queer women. And yeah, women’s rugby is hella queer.

    • Fellow antipodean here. To netball I would also add womens cricket. My girlfriend’s parents pulled her out of playing cricket in high school after someone told them it would make her gay. By then, the damage was already done.

  1. The beach volleyball entry — i died :^D
    Bravo to that.

    My sports were bball, soccer, track + cross country, and swimming sooooooo, the gayness factor checks out. After reading this, I’m realizing my goals in track were to specifically be able to outrun / be stronger than men. Lol.

    The women’s soccer team in hs was pretty gay, I def remember one time after practice when everyone was evaluating how nice each other’s buts were lololol. It was all very polite and complimentary XD

  2. The three sports I played at the BOARDING SCHOOL (pretty gay already) I went to: field hockey, archery, and fencing. I was a varsity fencer in fact. OH and, also my fencing team nick name was Boudica. It was all pretty fucking gay.

  3. When I was in elementary school I had an inexplicable need to play little league soccer. This was the 70’s, in the south, and I have no idea how I even knew what soccer was because we definitely didn’t watch it on TV. My high school didn’t even have a girl’s soccer team. I desperately wanted to play.

    In seventh grade, I made the junior high basketball team.

    My life is just one long string of gayness.

  4. excuse me, misty may and kerri walsh rolling around in the sand after their beach volleyball win in 2004 made me gay and i consider it a personal attack that it’s not in the top five. please amend accordingly.

  5. We had to play basketball, volleyball and handball for p.e., but I always loved basketball the most and even signed up to play for a team for a summer with my best friend, who is now also out as bi.

    It never occurred to me that it was a queer thing to do, but hey, hardly a day goes by that I don’t find queerness clues in my childhood.

  6. I started with basketball in 4th grade, played volleyball for years, and was assigned to shot put and discus when I joined middle school track. BUT! The sport that made me figure out for real that I was gay??? Powerlifting. I joined a lesbian (wife!) owned lifting gym in January 2017 and by August was like “WHOA I’m gay.”

    Maybe I joined the gym because I already knew deep down? Probably. Were lots of other things happening my life that helped me figure it out? Sure. But I really believe that lifting helped give me the confidence I needed to come out and basically change my entire life.

  7. I’m not saying that roller derby made me queer (that ship had loooong since sailed by the time I started playing) but I’m also not gonna say it did anything to change my mind about the Important Topics of women’s butts/shoulders/badassery/awesomeness/strength/love/hilarity/did-i-mention-butts-yet?/also-shoulders-omfg-shoulders-omg and How Great They Are.

    So like. Yeauuuppp.

    (And then derby led me right into the warm, tender, loving, muscular arms of powerlifting. And. Well. WELL.)

  8. Roller derby is weirdly paradoxical for me because yes, it’s queer as hell. It also took forever for WFTDA to fully embrace trans women as actual competitors. But now everyone is welcome and you are primarily using your butt to destroy your enemies. I rest my case.

    • Yeah, standing up for trans women skaters took way, way too damn long. Especially since there’d been so many brilliant trans skaters there for so long like, not giving them the basic necessary protections&dignity to be able to excel without fear was like.. yes. Overdue. So overdue.

      and yes also butts4lyf

  9. Can you do the same thing, but with choir voices and orchestra instruments ? like, seriously, when I was playing in an orchestra, we had A LOT of theory about the sexuality of violinist, cellist & co.

    (btw I play the trumpet, I’ll let you draw your own conclusion)

          • bahahahah …. My first instrument was euphonium (a.k.a. baritone horn) because I was big enough to play it in 5th grade. Then switched to trumpet.

            OMG I traveled to Japan with our band in college, and the Japanese women in the local bands absolutely DESTROY in the brass sections! They are monstrously good! It’s so, so impressive. I’ll never forget it.

          • Yup yup yup. TENOR sax-player here, later clarinet. Clarinet is great for developing your playing skills, partly because of the fact there’s way more sheet music around for it (and I loathe shitty arrangements of pop music).

            But tenor sax simply affirmed my inner butch. Never got to lay my hands on a baritone one, alas.

            So yeah, brass = queer potential, as far as I’m concerned.

            In a slightly different branch of music, I’m *highly suspicious* of pipe organ players. Although I’m willing to admit it might be related to my slight librarian fetish, and organists are like the geeks of the classical music world. (Although, frankly, they’re all geeks, in the best way.)

  10. YES I love this!! My sports journey is HS basketball — college rowing — powerlifting — boxing — crossfit. So great seeing other powerlifters in the comments! Sadly I’m not finding crossfit to be very gay but I still lift & sometimes box & now have queer community outside sports (which I didn’t when I was younger). Also my gf played ice hockey in HS so we are really holding it down in the Gay Sportspeople department. 😀

  11. “According to our most recent Lesbian Stereotypes survey, about 40% of you have played one of these sports at one point in your life, and I’m not a scientist, but that data feels convincing!”

    Per 2008 data from the best reliable source I could find quickly*, 69% of U.S. girls play organized and team sports. The full report has a lot more detail (184 pages of it!) but I don’t think our 40% rate has convinced me of anything except the importance of survey sampling procedures and control groups**. 🙂 (Not trying to tear you down, Al(aina), you were clearly just making a lighthearted comment. My data-nerd self just couldn’t resist thinking “huh, I bet Google and I could do at least a half-assed job of evaluating that” and it was all downhill from there.)

    * Sabo, D. and Veliz, P. (2008). Go Out and Play: Youth Sports in America. East Meadow, NY: Women’s Sports Foundation. Full report at http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/GoOutandPlay

    ** And randomly assigning a representative group of previously-no-sports girls to various sports or to continued-no-sports and following them to see who turns out not-straight so we can really determine whether sports in general or some particular sports make you more likely to ditch straightness. OK if you made it this far thank you for indulging my data-nerdness, I’m going to sit in a corner and whisper limericks about odds ratios and relative risks until the twitching stops. 😉

  12. There is a significant cultural/regional/national bias in this survey of sports that made you gay, or else ice hockey would be ranked waaaaaaaay higher.

    Also, just as an anecdote, before I started playing ice hockey at age 9, I did figure skating (ice figure skating, specifically) from ages 4-9, so really, that might have made me gay, and it thus belongs on this list too.

  13. No one can argue with the top of this list, it’s perfect! I would say however that archery is much too low since it’s the favorite pastime of Artemis and she’s the patron Goddess of lesbians. 😉

  14. HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT WATER LILIES THE MOVIE!!!!!!! thank you autostraddle for showing me the closest to my life I’ve seen in a movie.

    I’ve been a synchronized swimmer since I was 8 years old and wow yes finally someone acknowledges how GAY it is. I’ve actually had a crush on every girl I’ve ever swum with.

  15. While I’m not super heavily invested in sports there were a couple I liked.
    When I was little, I’m talking 4 years old, I started swimming and I loved it. While I was never on a team or anything it was something I stuck with for a long time.
    I was a cheerleader in 5th grade.
    In high school to get out of P.E. (the coaches really hated me for one reason or another) I took dance. I still dance as a form of exercising.

  16. I played on a club rugby team in college the fall semester of my freshman year. They didn’t require new recruits aka rookies to know anything about it and I just wanted to make friends. The entire team was straight. No joke. I quit after I broke my elbow in practice. The whole experience ten years later makes for such a fun story. Also it appears now that I was the gay one…

  17. Unknown to me at the time, a majority of the members of my high school basketball team were dating each other. One of them was dating our coach (student/teacher trope anyone?). When I came out to her at the age of 21, she said, “I always knew you were a late-bloomer.”

  18. After the survey I did some digging and learned that cabbage ball isn’t just like a Southern thing but like specifically New Orleans-ish thing that has branched out a little to other areas somewhat.

    Never played a single game of softball in my life(not even in PE) but played cabbage ball in the summer league until I aged out and still have my team shirt that I accidentally wore to a family portrait with jeans, battered tennis shoes and frizzy half-assed pony tail I did in the car while everyone else was well dressed nice with shiny hair.

    And so cabbage ball is in a round about way the sport that made me out or marked me as the queer cousin for posterity. At least on my mom’s side of the family, my dad’s side has a proper lesbian cousin who got kicked out the military (caught dating the base commander’s daughter) and everything.

  19. Somehow I wound up on the straightest fencing team in connecticut in high school. Most of my teammates were dating older sketchy guys in their twenties, and there was no sexually charged fencing matches. I turned out to be like only one of three queer women on the team the entire fucking time. I didn’t come out until college. I want my money back.

    On the other hand, at A-Camp 2015, my cabinmate yelled at me across the s’more making activity that she found someone else who hates connecticut. It turned out to be someone on one of our rival teams who I thought was super cool and hung out with in the locker rooms. We’re fb friends now. It ruled.

  20. I basically did all the sports available to me – volleyball, track/cross country, softball, tennis, basketball, but also bowling.

    No one has mentioned it but i feel like being on a bowling league at 13, with your own custom made ball and wrist brace is super gay.

    However, despite all these sports, I first thought *maybe* I was gay because I attended every one of my best friend’s soccer games, rain or shine, home and away, just to watch her (thank goddess I drew the line at her traveling team, wouldn’t want to seem too obvious).

  21. All of you need to cop on to Gaelic football. The 2018 All-Ireland Senior Ladies’ Football Championship just happened and it was absolutely brilliant. Plus, two of the ladies on opposing teams are totally dating.

    • Omg i totally tried Gaelic football hoping for a new sport and perhaps some queer friends but it was the straightest group of people I have ever been in. They were lovely, but had a social where the activity was making table decorations for one of the three straight weddings that team members were having that summer. Fab sport, distinct lack of gays ime.

      • Honestly, you’re probably right about that but I’m almost certain that it’s gayer than it presents itself. All I can say is that Catholic guilt is still alive and well!

        Regardless, I think Gaelic football is one of the most exciting team sports around and would love it if it became more popular in the states.

        Also, Charlotte, NC has a ladies football team and a lot of them are totally gay. Most of them are ex soccer players though. haha

  22. I played baseball on the boys’ team until I was the only girl in the local league. Then I played softball for a season and decided I hated team sports and switched to swimming. Shortly after that I added fencing. Did I mention that throughout all of this I was also an archer? (I have a great photo of me somewhere in boys’ cargo shorts, my older brother’s t-shirt competing in a 4-H archery contest and thanks to this post I’ve eealized that it is Very Gay in addition to being Very Robin.

  23. Curling is a super duper gay af sport. I also think these results are maybe biased a little bit by their American-ness. Basketball isn’t as much a thing in Canada, curling is a big thing. A big big gay thing.

  24. I’m a freshman in college and I was recruited to rugby by the cutest, gayest girl. Apparently there was so much drama on the team last year that they had to have a team meeting to implement a rule so that everyone would stop sleeping together and making out at the local gay bar. Rugby is truly the gayest sport.

  25. i played basketball and softball and now i’m extremely gay so there’s proof that both of those sports made you gay. i went to a women’s college where mostly everyone was at least a little gay for a little while and even then the rugby team was the gayest.

    i would also like to put forth crew for consideration as a Gay Sport. i knew a ton of girls in college who were supposedly straight then joined the crew team and suddenly had a girlfriend, or at least a crush on one of the captains.

  26. A solid 30-50% of the women at my grappling/MMA gym are gay or bi. Some other sports I’ve done over the years: gymnastics, karate, track, fencing, archery, and swimming. My girlfriend played soccer and rugby and did gymnastics. I think we fill out this list all on our own.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.