‘‘Everything at home has been wonderful and now everything on the basketball side is there. And the great thing about it is she’s been there with me. She was here when the Lynx were 0-10 (in 2007) and she was here when we went on that championship run.’’
Augustus’ decision to take a more public role in advocating for gay rights is drawing some applause from an athletic scene that has never been particularly welcoming to gay athletes. No active male athlete in the four major pro sports — football, baseball, basketball or hockey — has come out publicly as gay, according to the gay-oriented sports website Outsports.com.
‘‘I think it’s awesome because it shows that she’s comfortable being who she is and she feels she has the support and people won’t treat her differently just because of her sexuality,’’ said Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, a straight athlete who has been outspoken in his support of gay marriage. ‘‘It shouldn’t affect who you are on the basketball court or football field or even as a human being because of who you love. That’s not what makes you a person.’’
Augustus is wearing one of Kluwe’s ‘‘Sparklepony’’ T-shirts — a phrase Kluwe used in an aggressive response to a Maryland state legislator’s efforts to quiet Baltimore Ravens player Brendon Ayanbedejo’s public support of gay marriage — during interviews at the WNBA Finals to raise awareness. Her teammates, coaches and the Lynx front office have fully supported Augustus’ efforts.
‘‘The easier route would be to stay closeted because it isn’t as accepted as we hope it would be,’’ Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. ‘‘I'm really proud of her for being out in the forefront.’’
Augustus said she never once felt concerned about how her teammates and coaches would react, but acknowledged that would not be the case for any male athlete considering doing the same thing.
‘‘For the most part, to be honest, everyone thinks that the WNBA is one big lesbo-party anyway,’’ Augustus said. ‘‘So the coming out process isn’t as tough for us because people are already expecting it.
‘‘For the men’s side, because it’s like alpha male ego, for a guy to come out and be an active player, not a retired player, it would definitely blow up in the media spotlight.’’
She calls the perception that the WNBA caters primarily to lesbians ‘‘baloney.""It’s just hard to deal with at times because that’s all people talk about, not really the quality of basketball in this league and how we've grown,’’ Augustus said. ‘‘But when you go on blogs they talk about how masculine you look or how aggressive you look.’’
‘‘I've never seen a basketball player that looks like a beauty pageant winner. We go out here, we work hard, we sweat, we have our hair all over. It’s a very physical sport. We have to have a certain body type in order to play this game.’’
Augustus said she’s had several gay athletes reach out to her since she started speaking publicly about her relationship with Varner, and the once-camera shy star is warming up to the spotlight.
‘‘Trailblazing,’’ she said with a wide smile. ‘‘I'm trailblazing. It feels great.’’
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