Happy Pride Month, queers!
If I have a Brand™ it is gay sports, which is why I am thrilled to have an op-ed up at the New York Times today about how the WNBA is changing long-held homophobic narratives about what female athletes have historically been allowed to look like.
(My mom says she’s been having trouble finding the links to my stories in the newsletter, so Mom, this is for you: CLICK HERE.)
I had originally envisioned this story as a reported piece for the Styles section or a fashion publication, and I had hoped to be able to interview some of the players about how they think about game-day outfits and what it means for people to see their masculine-of-center looks elevated as style icons (maybe I’ll get to do that another time!). Ultimately, the story ended up as an op-ed and I’m equally thrilled about it. I still can’t really believe that I got to write queer women’s basketball content in the paper of record and that I got to work with a queer woman editor on it (shoutout to Devi Lockwood!).
(A little behind-the-reporting tidbit: I knew the Times was sending a photographer to the Connecticut Sun game on Sunday to photograph players arriving in front of the mural wall the team has designated specially for these photos. When I saw photos of Courtney Williams arriving for the game (pictured above in the lead image for the piece), I very literally screamed out loud, because I knew she knew the Times photog was coming, and I was very sure she had pulled out this absolutely iconic getup for the occasion. Well played, Court. We are not worthy.)
This piece published during Pride Month, and the day after espnW writer Katie Barnes asked some incredibly important questions on Twitter, namely, have any of the major sports publications done any meaningful content for Pride Month?
Frankly, the lack of queer content at most sports publications is depressing, and even more so during Pride Month. Pubs have all year to plan for it, as the designated month falls in June every year! Plus, we’re smack in the middle of the Women’s World Cup and the WNBA; it’s not like there’s a dearth of queer athletes playing sports right now. ALL THE GAYS are out here waiting to be covered.
The oversight signals a larger diversity problem in sports newsrooms: they are still overwhelmingly white, male-dominated. This is something that has slowly begun to be addressed, but much of the “diversity” push has been to hire cishet white women. While women’s perspectives in sports narratives are crucial and drastically needed, those perspectives need to be varied. Women are not a monolith. And queer and trans journalists are often left out of the diversity conversations completely when we talk about hiring and representation—this is especially true when it comes trans and non-binary writers.
This month, I have struggled between wanting to see more queer sports content for Pride Month and being pissed that this month is perhaps the only time all year I can get publications to deem my queer stories “timely” enough to accept. I also suppose I’d rather see no queer sports content if a pub doesn’t have someone who could write it well than to see them assign a cishet white dude to write a story badly just to check some boxes. Sometimes I worry that writing all this gay sports stuff is going to pigeonhole me or I am going to be accused of trying to make everything gay when it doesn’t have to be, but the truth is, until we have more queer journalists working in sports media, I am writing the stories I so desperately want to see, the stories I so desperately want to tell, the story that queer kids so desperately need to read.
The other truth is that I am a queer woman and a queer writer and it is through that lens that I view the sports I watch and the athletes I love. Those things can’t be separated.
To my larger point above, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it was a queer female editor who saw this pitch and deemed it worthy of publishing. Would a cishet editor have felt the same way? I can’t say, but I do know that queer perspectives in newsrooms are incredibly important. Katelyn Burns recently highlighted the dismal state of LGBTQ media for The Outline last week, and that piece is worth your time.
SWITCHING GEARS, if you’re here for androgynous, masculine-of-center, and butch fashion, here are some WNBA players I highly recommend following on Instagram. You won’t regret it:
Courtney Williams: @courtneywilliams10
Brittney Sykes: @brittbundlez
Tamera Young: @tyyoung11
Tasha Cloud: @t__cloud9
Kahleah Copper: @_klc215
Seimone Augustus: @moneymone33
Danielle Robinson: @danirob13
Erica Wheeler: @eweezy_3