Former Baylor University basketball star and top WNBA draft pick Brittney Griner — who came out as a lesbian with Jodie Foster-style nonchalance on Wednesday — is not offering up any theories as to why her male colleagues are stuck in the closet. Sports Illustrated’s Maggie Gray asked about the double-standard, wherein rumors that a handful of unnamed NFL player might soon come out spur a media frenzy (and straight punter Chris Kluwe is a media darling simply for coming out as gay-tolerant), while Griner’s revelation is met with shrugs and yawns. “Why is there a difference between men and women in that issue?” Gray asked. Griner responded:
“I really couldn’t give an answer on why that’s so different. Being one that’s out, it’s just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”
Indeed, if you want to know why it’s all cool for female athletes to come out, look no further than the sexist logic of what other people (commenters, mostly) say about Griner. It goes: Sports are for men, therefore a female athlete must want to have sex with women, as the sports-loving men do — if she is not secretly a man herself, that is. But all that noise makes Griner’s matter-of-factness even more precious. May she always be as well-adjusted as she sounded explaining to Gray that her fame didn’t make coming out any more difficult.
“It really wasn’t too difficult, I wouldn’t say I was hiding or anything like that. I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn’t hard at all. If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”
Griner, like Foster and Anderson Cooper, strikes a balance between normalizing her sexuality and downplaying it that, for better or for worse, might serve her fellow LGBT athletes well. Demanding they opine about gender and sexuality all the time seems like a good way to make sure they stay in the closet, anyway. In the mean time, there are plenty of straight athletes and sports journalists were willing to theorize to the New York Times.