After the NBA’s Jason Collins made his coming out announcement last week, a good number of folks wondered what the big deal was. After all, openly gay professional women athletes have been around for years — including soon-to-be WNBA rookie Brittney Griner, who came out publicly the week before Collins to a lot less fanfare. But Griner doesn’t mind all the attention that Collins is getting. In fact, she’s incredibly happy for him.
In an essay published by the New York Times on Sunday, Griner recounted her own coming out story. From The Times:
People have asked me if I’m at all bothered that my “announcement” after the W.N.B.A. draft last month didn’t receive as much attention as Jason’s. Frankly, it didn’t matter at all to me. I simply answered a question honestly and am just happy to tell my truth and to be in a position to encourage others to do the same. It’s all about living an honest life and being comfortable in your own skin. It strengthens me to know that Jason and I (along with so many other out pioneers and allies) are united in a mission to inspire others who may be struggling. I want everyone to feel at peace and O.K. with being who he or she is.
Griner casually announced to the sports world that she was gay during a post-WNBA draft media interview.
In the Times essay, Griner goes on to describe how she was “bullied in every way imaginable” because of her height (she’s 6’8”) and sexuality, and hit “rock bottom” in seventh grade.
It’s taken me a long time to figure out exactly where I fit. During that journey, I realized that everyone has a unique place in this world. I also discovered that the more open I was with my family and friends, the more I embraced others, and the more committed I became to doing the things I love, like basketball, skating and, of course, eating bacon (the greatest food of all time), the more love and confidence I received in return.
Griner and Collins are two great examples of courage. And two fantastic role models for athletes.