The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) remains a progressive professional sports league in terms of player embracing their LGBTQ identities and using their platforms for social justice advocacy. But this wasn’t always the case.
Sheryl Swoopes made history when she became the first WNBA player to come out publicly as gay, followed by Seimone Augustus two years later.
1. Sue Bird
Bird is an advocate for social justice who has used her platform to raise awareness on several topics including racial equality and LGBTQ representation. Additionally, she joined an unprecedented record number of LGBTQ athletes competing in the Olympics while acting as an early supporter of survivors from Pulse nightclub shooting.
Early in its existence, the WNBA reflected society by not welcoming LGBTQ fans – something Sue Wicks felt disdained by. In summer 2014, San Antonio Stars players held what she felt to be an underwhelming Pride night event that she found disrespectful.
Now, however, the tide has changed significantly; now WNBA Pride events take place regularly and the league stands as one of the most forward-thinking professional sports leagues when it comes to inclusivity.
2. Diana Taurasi
WNBA players use their platform to address social injustice, advocate for political reform and raise awareness about relevant topics – this often includes LGBTQ+ advocacy.
As soon as the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2022, WNBA players showed their solidarity by donating game-worn shoes and participating in pride parades.
No exact number can be pinned down as to how many WNBA players are openly gay or lesbian, though coming out can have serious repercussions in terms of playing time, endorsements and post-playing careers.
3. Layshia Clarendon
WNBA players speak out on social justice issues from personal experience and a deep empathy for those marginalized by society. They are frequently the first to recognize and commemorate Pride Month as a tribute to all who endure prejudice or discrimination.
Layshia Clarendon of the Minnesota Lynx is one such player. Drafted to the 2021 Women’s National Basketball Association draft as all pronoun user, she made history by being first openly trans and nonbinary athlete to undergo top surgery in her sport.
Due to these reasons and more, the WNBA has established itself as America’s most progressive sports league when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation. Other professional sports leagues could take note of its leadership here – its players continue advocating for their community while inspiring future generations of sports enthusiasts free WNBA picks.
4. Alyssa Thomas
WNBA players have long been at the forefront of social justice activism, particularly LGBTQ+ rights. Their advocacy sends a powerful message of acceptance and inclusivity, making sports communities more welcoming for all individuals.
Thomas had an outstanding season for the Connecticut Sun, posting nine doubledoubles out of 25 games and breaking franchise records in points, rebounds and assists. She also made waves off-court, lobbying Minnesota voters against an antigay marriage ban proposal while standing up against homophobia in Baltimore where she hails from.
Young LGBTQ athletes need role models in their sports to inspire them and show that it’s okay for them to embrace who they are without fear of self-expression. The WNBA provides an example for other leagues.
5. Courtney Vandersloot
Courtney Vandersloot is one of the WNBA’s finest ball distributors, adept at elevating her team’s talent to new levels and helping it reach new heights of performance. Additionally, she is an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ+ rights.
She was a regular starter with the Chicago Sky for twelve seasons, earning her the moniker “The Pass Queen” due to her remarkable passing skills.
Her commitment to the game of basketball is unparalleled among WNBA players, playing nearly 365 days annually. She often credits playing basketball as making her truly happy in life; this makes it easier for her to advocate on behalf of queer communities within sports and beyond.