Jason Collins Is Not the First Out Gay Pro Athlete

WNBA's Brittney Griner at the 2012 ESPY Awards. <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-564025p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Helga Esteb</a>/<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock.com</a>

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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. Here are just a few of them:

  • Retired WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes, who came out in 2005 when she played for the Houston Comets. (She later married a man.)
  • Brittney Griner of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
  • Chamique Holdsclaw, former WNBA player most recently with the San Antonio Silver Stars.
  • Megan Rapinoe, member of the US Women’s National Team, now playing soccer professionally in France.
  • Lori Lindsey, USWNT member in the 2012 Olympics who currently plays for the Washington Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League.

There have also been a number of out stars in individual sports—including Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova in tennis and Orlando Cruz, a professional boxer.

There have also been other male professional athletes in team sports who have come out, even if they’re not in the “big four” professional sports—like Andrew Goldstein, the goalie for Major League Lacrosse’s Long Island Lizards.

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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