August 9, 2012
By Michael Lewis
A BIG LIFT
Rapinoe says coming out has helped her play her best soccer
LONDON -- For U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe, coming out as gay last month was not a difficult decision at all.
|Megan Rapinoe: "I guess it seems like a weight off my shoulders because I am playing a lot better than I ever have before."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
In fact, she said it not only lifted a weight off her shoulders, she is playing better "than I ever have before" at the Summer Olympics.
"I've lived my life pretty open before that," she said on Wednesday, the eve of the U.S. gold medal match with Japan. "It was just nice, not to get it off my shoulders, but to get it out there and be proud about it. There's not very many athletes who are out and it felt important to me. I guess it seems like a weight off my shoulders because I am playing a lot better than I ever have before. But I think I'm enjoying myself. I'm happy and really enjoying my football."
Rapinoe has enjoyed a marvelous tournament, especially one for a wing midfielder. She has three goals, including two in the 4-3 semifinal triumph over Canada on Monday, and four assists.
Asked about the reaction to her coming out, Rapinoe replied, "Yeah, it's been all positive. I don't look into it too much."
Rapinoe admitted that if a male athlete tried to come out, that would be a different story.
"I think there are a lot of gay women in sports," she said. "It's widely known on the teams that they can live a pretty open lifestyle without being open in the media. But for men unforutnately it's not the same climate in the locker room. I think maybe it's a homophobia' hopefully is maybe a little overestimated. A lot of stars have come out and said that we would accept a gay man in our locker room and hopefully its a matter of time for that it happens."
Men and women might play the same sport, but they can live in different worlds.
"In women's sports you are able to live your life," Rapinoe said. "You have to have a lot more courage to come out [for a man], even if everybody supports you. It's still a tough thing to be one of the first to do it."