As Sue Bird said goodbye after playing her last game on Tuesday, fans cheers “Thank you, Sue!” “Thank you Sue!” She spoke to her beloved situation not only in court, but outside of it as well.
Bird’s basketball achievements are legendary, with one Sports Illustrated writer describing them as “Emerald City Goats.”
But Bird’s personal development during her 20 years in Seattle has also reflected the evolution of the WNBA and the storm and societal changes in LGBTQ+ inclusion.
When Bird first started in the league in 2002, it was a very different time. Federally recognized same-sex marriage was 13 years away and media representation for LGBTQ+ was limited to shows like “Ellen” and “Will & Grace”.
At the time, players were closed to protect their careers. As The Athletic wrote in June, the league initially insulted LGBTQ+ fans and Marketing of heterosexual players To appeal to men. Gamers were feminized and gay players were pressured to hide their sexual orientation.
In 2008, novice players were awarded Makeup tutorials and fashion tips As part of their orientation, trying to make them more “marketable”.
While the large number of LGBTQ+ players has always been an open secret – the secret to attracting hordes of gay and lesbian fans to games across the country – the league itself hasn’t embraced the people who take up seats week after week, buy season tickets which are what The New York Times called it “The most loyal fans in the league.”
But as more and more players start publicly acknowledge What has long been known in particular about their sexual orientation, in 2014, the association finally began embracing its lesbian and gay fans by launching Marketing campaign It is aimed directly at LGBTQ+ fans, and is the first professional league to do so.
Today, Storm hosted the annual “Pride Night” in June as well as participated in Seattle Pride events and partnerships.
Byrd, herself, years after The inconsistency about being in publicFinally, in 2017, she was a lesbian and dating soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
Storm fan Sarah Morningstar, who attended Bird’s last three matches, said Bird’s leadership on social justice issues and willingness to use her voice for change was inspiring to watch.
“With great power comes great responsibility, and she is impeccable. No scandals, no drama,” she said. “It’s like, ‘I’m Sue Bird.’ …I play some ball and do some good. I speak when I need to, because people will listen. “
In 2020, for example, Bird, Rapinoe and Russell Wilson used their platforms Speak in Support of Black Lives Matter At the ESPY Awards, Morningstar recalls.
Morningstar, widow Legendary Civic Leader Sheryl ChowStorm Yard, he said, was an “immediately safe place” to get outside and be proud. “It’s like ecstasy over there. You’re in that good-natured bubble.”
I know the feeling. The first time I went to a professional women’s basketball game—way back during the Seattle Rain era of NBA in the late ’90s—I remember never seeing so many lesbians, lesbians, and non-binary people in one place at once. Even as someone who doesn’t follow sports, it felt like coming home.
Bird cemented her place in the hearts of many women in the LGBTQ+ community with her farewell speech during her last regular season game on August 7.
she speak affectionately About her early days at Wildrose, the last lesbian bar in Seattle, she spoke somewhat of her own transformation about her public identity.
“I remember two years later, some of my teammates wanted to go to Wildrose, and I went with them,” Bird said. “There was a season ticket holder and she put her arm around me and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if this is where you want to be. On the outside, I was like, “Okay, thanks, good looking,” on the inside, I was like, “I know where I am,” she said with a big smile.
It was a complete moment, said Martha Manning, co-owner of Wildrose.
Manning, who has owned the pub since playing Bird in the Storm, said that in the early 2000s, Storm players would have come to the Roses, but that this was something that was kept under wraps. “It was kind of like ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ she said. ‘And they were definitely not encouraged to go to gay bars.
But fast forward to 2022, a lot has changed. She said most of the players attended the Rose Pride celebration, and this time it was kept secret so the players wouldn’t be attacked. Manning said getting Bird to scream from the tape the way she did was “amazing.”
“I just put it there,” Manning said. “And I think it’s interesting, compared to that from the beginning of her career where she wasn’t really allowed to say things. And I think [the shout out] It certainly wasn’t about the rose, it was about acting.”
When players like Bird, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart, and many others live our truth, it helps more of us live our truth.
To have a role model for being female and gay and an athlete and a community leader,” Morningstar said. [who is] Such a strong human being is really nice. …she is humble. She is grateful. And she uses her power for good.”