WNBA president Laurel Richie, right, congratulates Brittney Griner after she is picked No. 1 in the draft. Photo Credit: Allen Kee/ESPN Images
BRITTNEY GRINER bringing LGBTQ VISIBILITY TO SPORTS!
Brittney Griner's Inspiring Message By Jemele Hill | ESPN.com
April 17th, 2013
Brittney Griner was so nonchalant and confident when she publicly acknowledged she is gay, you would have thought she just told the world that she liked potato chips.
"It really wasn't too difficult," Griner told SI.com during a group interview with Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins, the No. 2 and No. 3 picks in the WNBA draft. "I wouldn't say I was hiding or anything like that. I've always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So it wasn't hard at all. If I can show that I'm out and I'm fine and everything's OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way." The simplicity in Griner's answer was striking, and telling. It said a lot about who she is, and it sent a clear, inspirational message to any person who might be considering coming out.
There has been a lot of angst recently about openly gay professional athletes. How will they be accepted by teammates? Fans? The business community? Griner reminded us that maybe we've spent too much time needlessly worrying about the wrong things. What exactly does it mean to be an openly gay athlete? The recent news surrounding Brittney Griner shows the changing dialogue around gay athletes in sports. Still, too much of this conversation about gay athletes in sports is built around fear. And most of the talk has been relegated to two topics: men and football.
Griner, by comparison, gave us a model of what the coming out process should be like -- a big deal, but not a big deal. "Being one that's out, it's just being who you are," Griner told SI.com. "Again, like I said, just be who you are." Griner is a superstar, and even though her affirmation isn't a complete victory for progress, it offers some evidence that acceptance of openly gay professional athletes is at least moving in the right direction. Her comments were also timely because as the top pick in the WNBA draft, she likely understands that there will be increased scrutiny. Baylor may have shielded her from some media attention, but that probably wasn't going to be the case with the Phoenix Mercury. She has a right to live her life fully. What would have been the point in pretending? Just be who you are.