The WSL kicks off this weekend, here’s some of the LGBTQI visibility we can look forward to

BY ANNIE CALLAHAN, IMAGE VIA INSTAGRAM (@SHELINAZ)

Following the Lionesses’ victory at Euros earlier this summer, the buzz around the return of the Women’s Super League (WSL) is HUGE.

Unlike their male counterparts, there’s plenty of queer representation within the women’s game. World-cup-winning legend and LGBTQI advocate Megan Rapinoe famously said, “you can’t win a championship without gays on your team – it’s never been done before, ever. That’s science, right there!”

Here are some of the out and proud players bringing queer visibility to the pitch.

Beth Mead

Beth Mead was crucial to England’s Euros 2022 victory, where she was crowned Player of the Tournament. Beth was also the tournament’s top goal-scorer and awarded the Golden Boot for her six goals and five assists that helped the Lionesses to victory. 

Beth, who’s played for Arsenal since 2017, holds a number of accolades including the most assists of all-time in the WSL, and the most assists in a season. She was in the 2018-19 WSL-winning Arsenal team, and the side looks like a strong contender for this year’s title. 

The forward contributed a record-breaking 70 goals for club and country in the 2021-2022 season, securing her a nomination for the Ballon d’Or Féminin 2022 – one of football’s most prestigious trophies. 

Vivianne Miedema

Dutch forward Vivianne Miedema plays for North London club Arsenal. As the all-time leading goal scorer for the Netherlands, she joins Beth Mead in being nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or Féminin. 

In May, a statue of Miedema was unveiled outside the Emirates stadium, joining the likes of male football legends Thierry Henry and Tony Adams. This was an iconic moment as Vivianne Miedema is the first female player to have a statue at the club. 

Vivianne is out and proud, and has been vocal in the past about homophobia in the game.

Speaking about the absence of any out male players in top-flight football, Vivianne told the Guardian, ‘if someone was to come out and that player is fully respected, from there on it would be easy for a lot of other boys to come out as well. I think you should do what you want and let people do whatever they feel good with.”

Shelina Zadorsky

The Canadian centre-back plays for North London club Tottenham Hotspur. Shelina transferred to the WSL from USA’s Orlando Pride in 2018. Shelina won a gold medal with Canada in the Tokyo Olympics last summer.

Shelina is in a relationship with Spurs teammate, striker Rosella Ayane. Back in July, she shared a proud Instagram post of Rosella wearing her runners-up medal, after representing Morocco in the African Women Cup of Nations this summer. 

Demi Stokes

Demi Stokes plays as a full-back for club Manchester City as well as England. The left-footed defender joined City on a three-year deal in 2015. After being overlooked for the World Cup England squad in 2015, Demi came roaring back, and has been selected for every international squad to date since. 

Demi welcomed baby Harlen with her partner Katie Harrington two months before the Euros kicked off. 

Speaking on gay players in the game, Stokes told The Guardian, “It’s honestly not something I gave too much thought to [coming out]. It was just about: ‘I’m Demi and I’m authentic’. I didn’t do the post to say: ‘I’m gay, I’m here, I’ve arrived’. It was more just that I openly spoke about my partner and that’s it. That’s how it should be: If you’re going out with a boy, a girl, it doesn’t matter, it shouldn’t change anything.”

“It’s about being comfortable with yourself. And the men’s game is very different, there’s a lot of taboo there. It’s obviously a slow process but within our game [the women’s game] we welcome everyone, and that’s good.”

Sam Kerr

Captain of the Australian football team and Chelsea forward Sam Kerr is a force to be reckoned with. The Aussie is a record-holder, winning the golden boot in three different continents for her goal-scoring prowess across Australia, America and Europe. 

The striker, known for her speed and skill, joined Chelsea in 2020 and is widely regarded as one of the world’s best players. Sam had a great season in 2021-2022, with her volley against Manchester United being named goal of the season. Sam Kerr’s brace also secured Chelsea the FA Cup as she slotted home the extra-time winner against Man City in May. 

Earlier this year, Sam also made herstory as first woman and queer person to be featured on the global cover of EA Sports’ FIFA videogame.

Sam is in a relationship with American soccer player Kristie Mewis, who plays for Gotham FC in New Jersey and the United States National Team.

In an absolutely unstoppable 21-22 season, Sam was awarded WSL player of the season and the Golden Boot. She’s also been nominated for this year’s Balon d’Or.

DIVA’s got the full lowdown on the WSL to get you in the know ahead of the first game of the season this Saturday.

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