It’s not just the football pitch we thrive on
BY PHOEBE IRIS, IMAGE BY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
The landscape of women’s sports is changing. The highest league of women’s football in England, Women’s Super League, experienced a 729% growth in attendance between 2017 and 2022. It’s predicted that by the end of the competition, a record-breaking two billion people will tune in to the 2023 Women’s World Cup which is being hailed as ‘the gayest world cup ever’.
As women’s football gains mainstream success, we are seeing an increasing number of athletes opening up about their sexuality, including four of the England players currently competing in Australia and New Zealand.
And the normalisation of queer people in sports isn’t limited to football, LGBTQIA athletes are thriving in all different areas of sport. Here are three more sports where queer women are killing it.
2023 was a record year for women’s rugby with 58,498 people turning up to watch England’s “Red Roses” take home the Women’s Six Nations trophy for the fifth year in a row.
Two notable LGBTQIA players are power couple Holly Aitchison, 25, and Hannah Botterman, 24. The pair first met aged sixteen at college. They were reunited when Holly joined the Saracens in 2020 and began dating that same year. They went public with their relationship in 2022 on the rugby podcast O2 Inside Line. Speaking to PinkNews, Hannah explained their decision to come out: “It’s about being seen, representing the community and being role models for young girls and boys.”
Other queer rugby players include Jade Konkel-Roberts, an openly lesbian rugby union player (and firefighter!), and rugby sevens couple Megan Jones and Celia Quansah, who competed together for Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Queer women have been making moves in basketball since 2002 when Sue Wicks became the first active player in professional basketball (male or female) to publicly acknowledge their homosexuality. The first active male player to come out was Jason Collins in 2013.
Speaking of the sport, Wicks famously told the Village Voice, “I can’t say how many players are gay…but it would be easier to count the straight ones.”
There are currently 39 openly LGBTQIA players in the WNBA, including Brittney Griner, Taylor Emery, Elena Delle Donne, and couple Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley who have been married since 2018.
We are also seeing representation in para-sports with one of the top wheelchair basketball players in the world, Bo Kramer, speaking openly about her experiences as a lesbian. Kramer, 24, is Dutch but has recently moved to the UK to play for league-winning team Loughborough Lightning.
Tennis has seen a lot of progress since Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova were both outed over a three-month period in 1981. Last month, DIVA covered which tennis players are out as LGBTQIA at Wimbledon 2023. It’s worth noting that no openly gay or bisexual men competed at Wimbledon this year.
Looking beyond Wimbledon, there are even more openly queer tennis players. American player Emina Bektas won the women’s doubles at the Fukuoka International Women’s Cup in Japan this year. She is married to former doubles partner and British player, Tara Moore, who was previously engaged to Swiss player Conny Perrin.
Other notable queer players include recently retired Australian doubles specialist Sam Stosur, and Dutch player Richèl Hogenkamp, who, in 2016, competed in a four-hour match, the longest match in Fed Cup history.
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