Spoiler: one Lioness was due to face her girlfriend in Sunday’s final against Germany
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE VIA @LIONESSES ON INSTAGRAM
Yesterday, the Lionesses made history in taking home England’s first major tournament title since 1966. Football fans up and down the country have expressed immense pride in England’s win and today, 7000 supporters have congregated in Trafalgar Square to celebrate alongside the victorious Lionesses.
The success of women’s football – alongside encouraging the participation of women in wider sport – has similarly encouraged discussions about LGBTQI inclusion in sport. In 2019, 41 gay and bisexual women competed in the World Cup, and six of these players were Lionesses. Now, there are seven.
We’ve come a hell of a long way. Notably, women were banned from competing in the aftermath of World War One as women organised their own matches to raise money, with historian Patrick Brennan terming ‘Munitionettes’ football to describe the matches that attracted crowds of up to 55,000 in the name of charity between 1917 and 1921.
Women were working towards the war effort – often in munitions as footballer Bessie Davies did – and sought to raise morale and increase leisure activities for women whilst the men were away at war. There were concerns that the women’s game would surpass the men’s game in popularity, and in 1921, women were banned from competing. The first official women’s international game in Britain was played in 1972 at Greenock, with England beating Scotland 3-2. In 19823, the FA invited the WFA to affiliate “on the same basis” as County Football Associations. It’s been a long fight to bring it home.
So, which of the reigning Lionesses are out as LGBTQI? And who are they dating?
Jill Scott MBE
With a rare 150 caps behind her, Jill Scott plays as a midfielder. She is the only remaining player on the England women’s team to have competed in the 2009 final against Germany, having made history in bringing it home alongside her current reigning Lionesses. She has played for the likes of Sunderland, Everton, Manchester City and Aston Villa, voted the FA Players’ Player of the Year in 2008 and the FA International Player of the Year in 2011.
Jill Scott is a lesbian and has been engaged to her long-term partner Shelley Unitt since March 2020. The pair have been together since 2015.
Playing as a forward for Arsenal, Beth Mead has been twice-named Vauxhall England Young Player of the Year in 2015 and 2018 respectively. In 2016, she was awarded the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year, earning the FA Women’s Super League’s Golden Boot in 2015 as a top scorer. At the Women’s Euros 2022, she again succeeded in the race for the Golden Boot by scoring six goals and facilitating five assists.
She notably dated former fellow Arsenal player Danielle van de Donk. The pair confirmed their relationship in 2019 but split up in 2021. “I think if players like me and Danielle can make people feel more comfortable and proud of who they are, then that’s a good thing”, Beth revealed in 2019, attesting to the visibility of their relationship and the representation it provided. “I think it creates an environment for people to be able to talk and speak out about who they are regardless of what anybody thinks.”
Playing for Houston Dash, Rachel Daly was named as a squad member of Team GB in May 2021. Having previously dated Kristie Mewis, Sarah Gorden and Christen Westphal, Rachel has been playing for the England national team since 2016. She specialises as a forward for Houston Dash, playing a myriad of positions with the Lionesses. She’s recently taken TikTok by storm with teammates Beth Mead, Millie Bright and Ellen White, sharing their stunning dance moves and connecting with fans.
She’s been described as a “natural” post-win by her former teacher in North Yorkshire, who turned up at a football match on a Saturday morning to Rachel playing alongside a team of boys. She played youth football for Leeds and, upon moving to the US, played for her college team. She’s since been primarily US-based, selected in the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League draft by her current team, Houston Dash.
Demi Stokes plays for Man City Women and is an England International Nike Athlete. She made her international debut as an England under-19 in 2009, winning the UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship in Belarus against Sweden. Demi joined Sunderland’s youth academy at 8 and began playing in her first team at 16, later studying at the University of South Florida on a four-year scholarship where she played 13 games for Vancouver Whitecaps and in the pro-am North American W-League.
In January 2015, Demi signed a three-year contract with Manchester City. She has since renewed her contract and was announced as a member of the Team GB Olympic football team in May 2021, competing in the postponed 2020 Olympics. She is engaged to girlfriend Katie Harrington, with the pair welcoming baby boy Harlen shortly before the beginning of the tournament.
When she’s not with the Lionesses, Jess Carter plays as a defender for Chelsea. At just 24, she is one of the youngest players on the England team, having captained the Warwick Juniors to the County Cup championship as a child. In June 2013, she joined the Birmingham City Academy, making her debut in a match against Arsenal in March 2014 in the first leg of the 2013-14 UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final. She was named Player of the Match.
Jess is currently dating Chelsea teammate Ann-Katrin Berger. Amazingly, the two faced one another at the Women’s Euros final on Sunday as Ann-Katrin – born in Germany – plays as Germany’s goalkeeper. Speaking to England Football about their relationship, Jess has previously stated: “I think I was – and probably still am – more comfortable than Ann is with publicising our relationship. But that is just because Ann is a very private person whereas I am more of ‘the whole world could know and I wouldn’t really care’ kind of person.”
Fran Kirby plays as a forward for Chelsea, originally signing with the club in July 2015. She has represented England at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 in the Netherlands. In 2018, she was awarded the PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year alongside the Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year.
In December 2020, Fran was named as Chelsea’s leading all-time scorer. In 2019, she received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Winchester for her efforts towards supporting mental health and wellbeing both on and off the pitch. Fran is a lesbian and featured on the DIVA Visible 100 in 2020.
Alongside fellow Lionesses Fran Kirby and Jess Carter, Bethany England plays for Chelsea. She has previously played for Doncaster Rovers Belles and Liverpool, having represented England on the U19 and U23 national teams. In 2020, she was named Player of the Year and PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year, having led Chelsea towards victory in the 2019-20 FA WSL and 2019-20 FA Women’s League Cup.
Bethany is currently dating fellow footballer Stephanie Williams, who plays as a midfielder for Oxford United.
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