These Lesbians Were Out Before It Was Cool

Professional basketball player Jason Collins made a splash this week by announcing he is gay. This is no small feat, to be sure. Even in 2013, coming out can be difficult, let alone when you are part of the macho sub-culture that is male professional sports. But did you know that a bunch of women professional athletes came out way before him? They did! Here are some of my faves.


Billie Jean King

She is one of the great tennis players of all time with 12 Grand Slam singles titles. The home of the US Open is named after her. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 for her work on behalf of women and the LGBT community. She was also outed as a lesbian in 1981 because of lawsuit by her mistress.


Wikimedia Commons

Martina Navratilova

Another tennis player. (What can I say? I have a bias.) And another one of the greats. She has 32 Grand Slam singles championships and was at the top of the doubles game well into the 2000s. She came out of the closet in 1981, the same year as King.

What about team sports? The lesbians are there, as well!


Wikimedia Commons

Sheryl Swoopes

Probably the most appropriately named pro basketball player of all time, Sheryl Swoopes was the inaugural member of the WNBA. During her professional career she won three Olympic gold medals. She also announced that she is gay in 2005.


Wikimedia Commons

Megan Rapinoe

Soccer is a sport, people! If you haven’t heard of her, it’s probably because she plays in France. But she helped the US women’s soccer team win gold in the 2012 Olympics, so I’m claiming her. So she’s super good at soccer. And also gay!



Liz Carmouche

Here’s someone who could pound your head in if she wanted to. Carmouche not only participated in the first women UFC fight, she was also the first gay person to fight in the UFC, male or female.

By pointing out that these women were out and proud before Collins is not meant to diminish the courage it took him to do what he did. However, I do think it’s important to acknowledge the women who came before him because, as Kate Sheppard notes:

Although his coming out in Sports Illustrated is big news, NBA star Jason Collins is not the “first openly gay athlete in professional North American team sports,” as some have claimed. Claiming as much implies that either women’s sports don’t matter as much (or don’t exist at all), or that coming out is somehow less of a big deal for professional athletes who happen to be women.

True that.


Related Posts:

4 Reasons April was Amazing for Gay Acceptance in Sports

NFL Players Ready to Welcome Gay Teammates

NHL Goes All-In for LGBT Equality


Top photo: calliopegen/Wikimedia Commons

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Sabrina I.
Past Member 2 years ago

can we not say that being homosexual is cool? do you sound like my mother, "everybody is saying they're gay because now is cool". maybe they are coming out because they want rights. having no rights isn't really cool.

Michelle J.
Michelle J.2 years ago

Could someone please tell me what pedrito's reply was? From the other posts, it sounds awesome, and I didn't get a chance to see it before it was deleted! I knew an angry aprroach would make the idiot smug, so I decided to speak to him at his maturity level. Please, just for laughs, let me know!

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

Pamela - You realize of course that you ladies verbally destroying his pathetic comments is probably the closest he has come to female contact in years.

There is something really creepy and sicko/psycho/sexual about that pigs posts.

Just reading them makes me feel the need to go take a shower (lol)

Pamela W.
Pamela W.2 years ago

Kevin ....... wonderful news !!! But let's not cheer TOO loud (he might hear us) and he's, no doubt, got at least one or two more replacement identities up his sleeve LOL !!! Listen ...... I'm sure I can hear a distant voice saying " I'LL BE BACK !!! " ..... Guess what? "We'll be waiting" !!!!

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown2 years ago

Well it looks like the disgusting Pedrito has gone bye, bye. Banned from Care2.

Mary B.
Mary B.2 years ago

pam w........there are many sick puppies here (All real puppies please ignore).....sometimes I feel they protest too much...... why would they get so upset with a group of individuals who do them no harm or wish them no ill will ??........

pam w.
pam w.2 years ago

And, on second thought, "Pedrito" is no different from MANY who post here....whose profiles claim that they're good Christians who only want to ''show us all how god loves us and wants to be in our lives." These same people say they believe in a ''live and let live'' philosophy....

I think you all know someone like this...I certainly do!

Perhaps they'll recognize themselves, examine their consciences and maybe...JUST MAYBE
clean up their acts?

Ever the optimist....

pam w.
pam w.2 years ago

Pedrito says " just have a life with plenty of love; we are all brothers and sisters from the same Father who is in Heaven.- wish you well with whatever choices you make in life.."

.................. then, he slings insults right and left!

He's either living in a delusion or suffering from some kind of bipolar disorder.

Teresa B.
Teresa B.2 years ago

El Puerco writes: "But doesn't matter what I say"

Wow, you finally got something right. As far as getting your posts removed, you didn't really have to thank anyone, but de nada anyway, muchacho.

Deirdre G.
Deirdre G.2 years ago

glad to see people in sports are out and proud