From Jill Scott MBE to Lily Parr, here’s our list of some of the most influential LGBTQIA footballers of all time
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY GRAHAM CHADWICK, VIA INSTAGRAM (@__JESSLCARTER AND @MRAPINOE)
With the Women’s World Cup right around the corner, we cannot wait to see the Lionesses back on our screens. After their iconic win at the Euros 2022, we do not doubt that our brilliant team will be making us very proud in Australia.
Football is one of those sports which has offered a sanctuary for queer women since its inception. For many, the pitch has been a place to explore their identity without the threat of judgement. This culture has been pushed by the incredible LGBTQIA role models in football, showing us time and time again the power of visibility.
To kick off the season, here are 10 queer icons in women’s football from around the world.
Jill Scott MBE
Euros 2022 winner. Lioness. Queen of the Jungle. Jill Scott MBE is one of England’s finest players. The midfielder is one of the most decorated English football players and is one of the few players to have surpassed 150 caps.
Jill has been a vocal advocate for the LGBTQIA community within sport, and a role model for so many queer women in football. Last year Jill proposed to her girlfriend Shelly Unitt, and also announced her retirement.
As one of football’s most courageous LGBTQIA activists, the South African footballer Eudy Simelane was a midfielder for Springs Home Sweepers F.C. She was one of the first lesbians to live openly in South Africa
Eudy was violently raped and killed due to her activism work in 2008. The horrific nature of her murder brought many dangerous practices such as ‘coercive rape’ to the forefront of the nation’s attention and helped to pioneer new LGBTQIA charities and organisations.
Another Lioness to add to the list, Rachel Daly is one of England’s most impressive and skilled players. As part of the 2022 Euro-winning team, Rachel has shown how vital she is on the field. She’ll soon be donning the Lionesses’ kit again this year to play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
This football – or should we say soccer – star is a firm fixture on the USA national team. Megan Rapinoe was named the Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2019 and is known for her tactics on the pitch. Off the pitch, however, it’s her activism that really shines. Megan has been a firm advocate for LGBTQIA rights and has worked with organisations such as the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Athlete Ally.
In 2018, Megan and her girlfriend Sue Bird became the first same-sex couple on the cover of ESPN’s The Body Issue. Two years later, they announced their engagement!
It’s time we head back to World War One now, to the Dick, Kerr’s Ladies team. Lily Parr is perhaps one of the most influential LGBTQIA female footballers of all time. Having played rugby and football all her life, Lily was one of the best female footballers at the time scoring more than 900 goals in her career which spanned from 1919-1951
She was one of the first openly lesbian football players at the time, unwilling to hide her relationship with her partner Mary. She was the first woman inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum in 2002 and has become an LGBTQIA icon within the football community.
The Danish footballer is considered one of the best footballers in the world, and at one point was even the world’s most expensive female footballer following her transfer to Chelsea in 2020. Pernille is also known for her LGBTQIA activism off the pitch with her partner Magdalena Eriksson.
The picture of Pernille and Magdalena kissing at the 2019 World Cup was a watershed moment for queer football players and touched the lives of so many aspiring sportswomen.
The Canadian footballer made history as the first-ever non-binary athlete to compete at the Olympics in 2020. Quinn told BBC Sport in 2021: “It’s really difficult when you don’t see people like yourself in the media or even around you or in your profession.”
“I think being visible is huge and it’s something that helped me when I was trying to figure out my identity. I wanted to pass that along and then hopefully other people will come out as well if they feel safe to do so and I can create a safer space for them.”
Widely considered one of the best forwards in women’s football, the Australian legend Sam Kerr is known for her speed and tenacity on the pitch. She was the first queer footballer to feature on the cover of FIFA 23 Ultimate Edition and is currently dating fellow footballer Kristie Mewis.
And finally, another Lioness to close off our list. The Chelsea player has been openly out since she started dating her girlfriend Ann-Katrin Berger. Having brought the Euro’s trophy home last year, we do not doubt that she’ll do England proud on the pitch during the World Cup.