Kudos to Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins

BY JORDAN CRAVENS

Brittney Griner, the No.1 pick in the WNBA draft and a player who has changed the landscape of women’s basketball, has come out as a lesbian.

Her public acknowledgement of her sexuality comes during a time when gay rights and same sex marriage are highly controversial topics in our country as the Supreme Court reviews related legislation.

Griner is not the first WNBA to come out as a lesbian, but she should still be commended for having the strength to do so publicly. Each time a professional athlete “comes out” it will make it easier for future athletes to do so.

Griner came out during an interview with SI. Com that included Elena Delle Donne (Delaware) and Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame), who were the second and third picks in the WNBA draft, respectively.

Not only did Griner come out, but she also had a positive message for others who struggle with revealing their sexual identity.

“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,” she told SI.com

What was also encouraging from the interview were comments from Delle Donne and Diggins. They both expressed support for Griner and other athletes who are gay. They also said they hope women’s sports can serve as a catalyst for the first openly gay professional male athlete.

According to various media reports, some male pro athletes are ready to embrace athletes who are gay, while others are not.

One thing I find interesting about the debate is discussion over the locker room. Some have opined that being openly gay in the pros is OK, but to keep it out of the locker room.

Why has the locker room become the central point of debate? I assume other athletes don’t want to be made to feel uncomfortable showering and changing in front of gay athletes? I can’t speak for them, but that excuse comes to mind.

So, as a society, we aren’t comfortable with heterosexuals and homosexuals showering in the same locker room, but we are stamping our approval on the misogyny and homophobia that already exists in the locker room?

I’m not comfortable with misogyny and homophobia. Is it OK if they are kept out of the locker room?

The answer is: they haven’ t been. Locker rooms are a place ripe with derogatory insults toward women and gays. They are a place where masculine hegemony and testosterone run wild.

It’s hard for me to understand why the locker room has become such a sticking point in this debate.

If I were a professional athlete, my bigger concern would be whether my teammate was going to block for me or whether he can shoot a three-pointer in clutch situations.

If you support inclusion for gays in the professional sporting world, then be fully inclusive and ditch the locker room caveat.

And kudos to Griner, Delle Donne and Diggins. Let’s hope the male sporting world is taking notes.

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About The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project

The Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project is a hub for teaching, research, and service related to sport media. The Project benefits students and faculty at Bowling Green State University, and offers outreach and media consulting to area and regional groups that work with student-athletes. Through collaborative efforts of the Sport Management program and the School of Media and Communication, BGSU students have the opportunity to learn such skills as sports writing, reporting, broadcasting, announcing, public relations, media relations, communication management and production. Faculty and other scholars have access to resources about the commercial and sociological aspects of sport.

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