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‘Being true to yourself is a beautiful thing’

Megan Rapinoe, gay news, Washington Blade

Megan Rapinoe says women athletes have ‘led the way’ for being out in sports. (Photo by Erica McCaulley; used with permission)

Coming out is something Megan Rapinoe hasn’t regretted for a minute.

The professional soccer player and Olympic gold medalist announced to the world that she’s gay shortly before the 2012 London Olympic Games. She’d been out to her family and team members for years, but decided to come out publicly after a yearlong thought process because concealing a central part of her identity seemed “weird” and “not authentic.”

“It started to feel like something was being omitted purposefully from my life and my public image,” says Rapinoe, a midfielder for Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, who prides herself on being open with her personal life. Before coming out, she hated dodging questions about what it was like to have a large LGBT fan base by providing impersonal answers like “Well, yeah, we need diversity in the sport.”

“For me to not be able to say ‘I’m gay, and that’s why it means a lot to me to have my community supporting our team,’ that didn’t feel right to me,” Rapinoe, the 29-year-old guest editor of this sports edition, says.

It is important for professional athletes to come out as gay, Rapinoe says, not only for themselves, but because it helps LGBT fans realize they have someone to identify with on the field or the court. She lauds Michael Sam’s high-profile coming out earlier this year, a move that she calls “courageous.”

“I’m sure there are plenty of gay men and women out there who love football but maybe didn’t always feel welcome,” she says. “Now they can go support one of their own. I think that’s really special.”

But Rapinoe admits that for men, sports are still “hetero-dominated,” and being honest about sexual orientation is difficult. That toxic climate won’t change, she says, until homophobia in sports is finally considered unacceptable.

“The fact that we’re even still having this conversation about, ‘Is Michael Sam gonna be good for the locker room?’ is absurd to me. In 2014 there are incredibly larger problems people should really worry about,” she says. “If nobody ever comes out, then I don’t think that any of these issues we’re fighting for ever get solved or become better.”

Rapinoe has enjoyed considerable time in the limelight as a top player for the Women’s National Team at the 2011 Women’s World Cup and the 2012 Olympics. There’s more work to do, she says, before women’s sports earn the same level of visibility as men’s.

She’s been particularly vocal about FIFA’s decision to permit Canada to use mostly turf fields for the upcoming 2015 Women’s World Cup, quoted in SB Nation as calling the decision “a slap in the face to women’s football.”

Going forward, she hopes to see more funding and exposure for women’s sports. But she’s proud of steps that have already been made by ESPN, for example, which “stuck their neck out” on broadcasting women’s soccer despite skepticism about whether it would be popular. (It was, Rapinoe points out.)

“Men’s sports is ingrained in the culture of the country,” she says. “They are multi-billion dollar industries and it’s already in the media. But women’s teams still need that initial funding and willingness to hedge your bets that it’s going to be something that’s popular.”

In recent years, Rapinoe has emerged not only as a star player but also as an activist through groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and its “Change the Game” campaign, geared toward preventing anti-LGBT bullying in sports and physical education programs.

Growing up, Rapinoe never had role models of her own because fewer women in sports were openly gay. For her, being someone others look up to is an honor, not a burden.

“I don’t feel like just because I’m a soccer player and I’m out I have to be a role model. It’s something that really means a lot to me,” she says, recalling countless times where she’s connected with fans expressing their gratitude for being out and proud.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” she says. “It just reaffirms over and over how right I was to come out and say, ‘This is who I am and I’m totally fucking proud of it.’”

And despite potential blowback, she makes her advice clear for closeted LGBT athletes contemplating coming out: “Do it.”

“It’s one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. You rarely find when a person comes out that they regret it,” she says. “Being true to yourself is a really beautiful thing.”


Anti-gay GOPer Aaron Schock locks down Instagram account as outing rumors swirl

Anti-gay GOP Cong. Aaron Schock locks down his Instagram account as gay rumors grow.


NYT kinda outs Aaron Schock

The NYT reported on Itay Hod's outing of an unnamed GOP congressman, then linked to multiple stories naming him.


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33 couples got married at the Grammys this past Sunday, several of which were gay.


Ellen’s “coming out” interview on Oprah 17 years ago (video)

Ellen talks about how she was always afraid that Oprah wouldn't like her if she ever found out Ellen was gay.


Cartoon: Ellen Page comes out

Ellen Page, Human Rights Campaign, Juno, coming out, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade

Ellen Page comes out. (Washington Blade cartoon by Ranslem)


Importance of openly gay elected officials

Jim Graham, Washington, D.C., gay news, Washington Blade, gay elected

Gay D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) (Washington Blade file photo by Jeff Surprenant)

Like so many others, I have gone through many stages as a gay man. Knowing who I am, and being comfortable with all that, has taken time. I have gone from denying my sexuality and marrying a woman (who I loved then and still do to this day), to divorce. What followed were awkward personal times working in the U.S. Senate where there was then zero tolerance for being gay.

But when I became the volunteer President of Whitman-Walker Clinic on April 1, 1981, I came out of the closet with a roar — for a time everyone (whether they liked it or not) had to be told by me that I was gay. Those were my “Billboard Years.” More change followed after 16 years as head of the Clinic. I became more “right sized.” Being gay was a key part but only one part of my make-up. When I ran for D.C. Council in 1998, I ran on that basis and got elected, and re-elected ever since.

With all that in mind, I was struck by a recent suggestion by a Blade columnist that it wouldn’t matter if the D.C. Council went from its current two gay members to none at all.

It’s amazing that a gay columnist for a gay newspaper would suggest that not having gay elected leaders is of no significance! Harvey Milk must be turning over in his grave.

I have never campaigned just as a “gay man.” Had I done so, I would never have won. When I was first elected in 1998, Ward One was 71 percent minority population — 46 percent black and 25 percent Latino. I ran against an incumbent, African-American male, well known for his leadership in D.C. and in the national Civil Rights Movement.  In 1998, one out of every four Ward 1 residents were living in poverty. My record at Whitman-Walker demonstrated a commitment to all people as well as poor people –especially those living with HIV and AIDS, from the earliest days of the pandemic.

Why do people vote a particular way? The reasons are limitless, and surely sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, are all part of it. “Identity politics” is hardly dead. It matters — sometimes positive, sometimes negative — that a candidate is gay. It can make a big difference.

My sexual orientation informs what I do and say. But being gay is only part of who I am. I work every day to integrate all aspects of my life.

Yet to suggest as the columnist did “that LGBT residents are fully integrated into the fabric of local life” — and that “sexual orientation of elected officials is inconsequential” is just plain wrong. LGBT candidates bring a unique experience to government.

For example, I was just honored by the DC Center for my work on a recently passed bill establishing an LGBTQ homeless services program with 10 beds for these kids only.

Would that have passed without the energetic support of a gay Council member? Maybe, maybe not. But the DC Center surely thought it made a positive difference.

And why else does the Victory Fund endorse openly gay and lesbian candidates?  It’s not because — as the columnist suggested — “that the gay community is fully integrated into our different communities.” It’s because that having one of our own at the table counts.

But that is just the start. I, along with hundreds of other out LGBT elected officials, cannot win without earning the trust of our communities to stand with them and fight for everyone.


Ultimate launching pad

Crystal Bowersox, gay news, Washington Blade

Crystal Bowersox likes to test candidates for upcoming releases during her live show. She plays Wolf Trap next week. (Photo courtesy Wolf Trap)

Crystal Bowersox

The Barns at Wolf Trap

1635 Trap Road, Vienna, Va.


8 p.m.

Tickets: $24-28

Conventional wisdom has it that the holidays are not a good time to come out.

Crystal Bowersox didn’t quite do it around a Christmas Day family meal, but she definitely didn’t follow the usual path either.

When Bowersox released her Christmas album last December, one of the songs was called “Coming Out For Christmas” and the singer came out as bisexual during her touting of the record.

“I think it’s important that people in the public eye be public about where they stand and who they are because it will give kids around the world the confidence to be who they are,” she says. “It’s not good for anyone to hate any aspect of themselves and I think it sets a good example for young people to love themselves.”

America was introduced to Bowersox in 2010 as a contestant on “American Idol,” a single mother with dreadlocks who had a voice that crossed the territories of blues, country, folk and rock. Although she finished second to Lee DeWyze, her star was on the rise.

“Before ‘Idol,’ I had never done any excessive touring. I did some local gigs in my hometown and I was happy doing what I was doing,” she says. “When I had my son, I realized I wasn’t doing it on the level I needed to be doing it on to provide a stable income and life for my child.”

Historically, “American Idol” has elevated a number of members of the LGBT community to fame, including former runners-up Clay Aiken (season two) and Adam Lambert (season eight) — but like Bowersox, none came out until after their time on the show was over. Still, their braveness paved the way for the show’s first openly gay contestant, MK Nobilette, to compete and make it to the top 10 this season.

“The show changes your life in every possible way. There’s no other way to be heard by 30 million people,” Bowersox says. “The show gave me everything. It gave me a sounding board, industry cred and taught me what I was capable of as a performer. I learned a lot and now I can take what I learned and go out there and do what I do.”

The “American Idol” fave makes her Wolf Trap debut on Wednesday. Bowersox will play tunes off her critically acclaimed debut album “Farmer’s Daughter,” her latest “All That For This” and an EP she released quietly pre-“Idol” called “Once Upon a Time.” She also plans some possible candidates for an upcoming EP. She likes to sing them live to gauge audience reaction.

“It will be an evening of songs and storytelling,” she says. “I really like to interact with my audience and my show is like an on-going conversation with them. During the show people are calling things out and we’re telling jokes and having a lot of fun. I just hope people come, are entertained and leave feeling good.”

One of the things she loves most about a concert date is seeing the audience singing along with her — something she never imagined would happen.

“It’s nice to have recognition in something you created and have a crowd know every single word and sing them back to you,” she says. “That’s the true reward of being a singer/songwriter and performer.”

Bowersox will also surprise one lucky audience member with a trip to join her on stage, and after the show, she will make herself available for photos and autographs to every single person who wants one.

“I love to say hello and meet people,” she says. “I get a lot of feedback from people after the show and I just want them to be honest and help me know what’s working for my fans and what isn’t.”

Bowersox is also attached to the musical, “Always … Patsy Cline,” which has been rumored to make it to Broadway sometime in the next year. The singer plays the famous title character and croons the best of Cline.

She’s fulfilling a dream she’s had since she was little. In first grade, Bowersox played Suzy Snowflake in a school production and from there on in, wanted to perform for a living.

“I always loved to sing and dance but didn’t know I could make money doing it,” she says. “Eventually, I learned I didn’t have to go and get a job at Burger King, I could get people to pay for this service. I haven’t done much else since then. I am very lucky that I could do what I love for a living.”


PFLAG panel features parents of gays

PFLAG, Baltimore, Baltimore Pride Parade, Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, gay news, Washington Blade


When a child comes out as LGBT, parents often jump into that very same closet themselves by not revealing to others that their child is LGBT. At the regularly scheduled general meeting of the Columbia-Howard County chapter of PFLAG on April 8, there will be a panel discussion presented by parents of LGBT children. The panel members will share their experiences of their own coming out to family and friends. Following the panel presentation, an open discussion of the parental coming out process will transpire.

The meeting takes place between 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center, 7246 Cradlerock Way in Columbia. All meetings are free, confidential and open to the public. For more information visit


Gawker: Fox News demoted Shep Smith because he’s gay

Fox News allegedly removed Smith from the prime-time line-up over fears he would come out as gay last year.