A combination of superior athletic ability, a unique hairstyle and a great sense of humor has made Megan Rapinoe one of the more popular and well-known players on the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team. Rapinoe created one of the signature moments of the Women’s World Cup last year when she grabbed the field microphone after scoring a goal and sang Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Recently, she also became an inspiration to a homosexual community that has not exactly been well-received in the sports world.
Earlier this week, Rapinoe revealed she is gay.
“I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” Rapinoe said according to Out.com. “I feel everyone is really craving (for) people to come out. People want — they need – to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Rapinoe explained that she has not been hiding the fact that she is gay, but said no one has ever directly asked her. She said she has been dating a female Australian soccer player for three years, but just as people don’t walk around revealing that they are straight she hasn’t felt the need to come out and inform people that she is gay.
“I think they were trying to be respectful and that it’s my job to say, ‘I’m gay,’” she said. “Which I am. For the record: I am gay.”
While more and more athletes have been coming out in support of the gay community (here is a list of NFL players who did so), it is obviously still a problem. Based on the number of people who play professional sports in America, it is safe to assume that there are gay athletes in many locker rooms. They have chosen to keep that information private for a reason. If popular players like Rapinoe can continue to embrace their sexual identities, it will help others who struggle with theirs on a daily basis.