Five members of the U.S. women’s soccer team — plus its coach — have publicly come out as lesbians. The fabulous Megan Rapinoe is the most out there. With her chiseled features and chiseled short haircut, she could pass for the Greek god Mercury. (She needs a helmet with wings.)
Americans can be proud on two accounts. One is the team’s stunning performance in the World Cup. The other is that our lesbian soccer players feel free to totally own their sexual identity, and most Americans are totally cool with it.
France is a generally enlightened country, but it can be quite tough on its gay athletes. Marinette Pichon is the only member of the French team to publicly identify as gay. Other French players are afraid to. A few years ago, the French soccer federation marketed the female team through images of high heels, glitter and the color pink. Can you imagine?
Sports have long served as a safe refuge for lesbians. It’s an activity that rewards aggression and requires muscles.
There remains plenty of bias against homosexuals in America, but compared with most other countries, this is the land of gay freedom. So secure are lesbians in U.S. soccer that Rapinoe can humorously proclaim, “Go gays!”
She goes on: “You can’t win a championship without gays on your team. It’s never been done before. That’s science right there.”
Asked whether she would attend a reception with Donald Trump at the White House, Rapinoe responded, “I’m not going to the f—ing White House.” She later apologized for using the expletive, not for refusing a would-be invitation. That was a class move. Besides, she has sponsors to consider.
But note that even Donald Trump refrained from smearing Rapinoe over her sexual identity when he hit back. The women players were too beloved, too photogenic.
“Teams love coming to the White House,” Trump tweeted. “I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS!” He left it at that.
Of course, even a partly negative tweet by Trump can unleash vile attacks via social media. Rapinoe’s girlfriend, WNBA star Sue Bird, said that Rapinoe was “unfazed” by the nastiness.
Same-sex relationships have become so commonplace in American life that the media interview lesbian mates as they would hetero spouses. There was that unforgettable picture of the U.S. team’s Abby Wambach kissing her wife after winning the 2015 World Cup Championship. We forget how shocking these images are to many in even developed countries.
Rapinoe ruffled more feathers when she refused to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” along with her other teammates before the World Cup games. She said she was protesting racial injustice back home. I would have preferred that she just sing along and then play the game.
Rapinoe’s teammates and coach, Jill Ellis, backed her in the tiff with Trump. Their solidarity is touching, and the world didn’t come to an end. But somehow Americans seem to be the only people to wave dirty laundry at international sporting events. Many of the other countries are less perfect than we are.
This national anthem singing before sports events — especially international events — is designed to showcase love of country. American hearts have tied the U.S. Women’s World Cup team’s stellar performance to the patriotic celebrations of Independence Day. Why muddy it?
But let’s not end on a sour note. Rapinoe and her team are model Americans for their intelligence, talent, solidarity and generosity toward their competitors. That Americans of diverse backgrounds herald these outspoken lesbians is a tribute to Americans.
Froma Harrop is a syndicated columnist. Follow her on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached by email at: [email protected]
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