Here are some female pro athletes who came out years before Jason Collins

While the sports world acknowledges the reality that prominent gay professional athletes like Jason Collins exist, our friends at Buzzfeed remind us that the ladies have been breaking barriers as self-identified lesbians for decades.


Of course, it can’t be overstated how powerful Jason Collins’ coming out is–what the impact will be for other male athletes in football, soccer, baseball, or the profound signal it sends to the African American community. As Garance Franke-Ruta explains, “Female professional athletes are already gender non-conforming. Male ones are still worshiped as exemplars of traditional masculinity.” A high-profile male athlete like Collins coming out can help spark a shift towards embracing wider definitions of masculinity.

But let’s not forget the trailblazing women. As Kate Sheppard notes, claiming Collins is the first openly gay pro athlete implies that “women’s sports don’t matter as much (or don’t exist at all).”

Image via BuzzfeedLGBT.

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

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