A same-sex couple has appeared on the cover of ESPN’s Body Issue for the first time in the publication’s history.
Soccer player Megan Rapinoe and WNBA star Sue Bird made their relationship public last year. Rapinoe, who plays for Seattle Reign FC and the American national women’s team, said that the couple is honored to be the first gay couple to appear on the cover.
“I think neither of us really wants to just do things and be like, ‘We’re the gay couple,’” Rapinoe said in the ESPN interview. “But to have this really unique vehicle to actually do that, to celebrate who we are in our sport, but also the fact that we’ll be the first gay couple, is pretty special. It’s pretty amazing to think about, especially in the times we’re in. Just think of how far we’ve come, but also the current climate and defiance in the face of that. Not only are we female athletes, but we’re dating as well. It’s kind of badass.”
Rapinoe and Bird, a point guard for WNBA’s Seattle Storm, said that being the first couple on the cover of the magazine is important because it normalizes gay couples in popular culture, especially sports culture.
“I think having a gay couple on [the cover], hopefully it just becomes the norm. You want it to not be an issue,” Bird said. “You want it to just be, ‘Oh, another couple is on there.’ You know, I think for us to be on it is the first step in that direction.”
Rapinoe added: “It’s important for people to come out. Visibility is important. It’s important for there to be a first one on the cover [of the body issue], or whatever. Just in terms of the culture and society, someone has to do it.”
Rapinoe has long been an advocate for LGBTQ rights, gender equality and equal pay. Bird told ESPN that she was much less vocal about her life compared to her partner and never declared her sexuality publicly.
“But that’s not the same as coming out. It really isn’t. Being around Megan, I learned that,” she said. ”After I came out, just seeing the reactions. Having people come up to me directly. I think there’s just something really powerful about that. For some who maybe didn’t know I was gay, I think it meant a lot, and it changes some people’s perception on what being gay is.”
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