When Megan Rapinoe travels to France next month with the USWNT for her 3rd Women’s World Cup, we hope she brings along the swimsuits she wore in a historic photo shoot for Sports Illustrated. The team captain broke barriers by becoming the very first out gay woman included in the often celebrated, sometimes derided, annual publication.
In doing so, Rapinoe said she did it to expand the “narrow view” of what it means to be LGBTQ and an athlete, in a publication perceived to be “only for heterosexual males,”
Rapinoe, who came out in 2012 and is believed to be dating women’s basketball player Sue Bird, posed alongside other professional soccer players including her teammates Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn and Abby Dahlkemper.
Megan Rapinoe on St. Lucia for Sports Illustrated’s annual Swimsuit Issue.Screengrab: Ben Watts/Sports Illustrated
The incredible photographs were snapped on the lush Caribbean island of St. Lucia, according to the magazine. Rapinoe told SI she agreed to the shoot in hopes she could spark meaningful conversation about the LGBTQ community and help break down stereotypes.
“I think it’s really quite a bold statement by Sports Illustrated to be honest because it has been seen as sort of this magazine only for heterosexual males,” Rapinoe told the magazine.
“I think so often with gay females in sports there’s this particular stereotype about it and there’s such a narrow view of what it means to be gay and be athletic. So, to kind of just blow that up and and do something totally different I think is really important.
“I think our view is still way too narrow of gay people in general,” she said. “Stereotypes still very much persist and they are just such incomplete views of who we really are as people, so I think for that reason it’s really important to just continue to push those boundaries.”
Rapinoe first started pushing those boundaries when she came out in 2012, and addressed the fact that until then, nobody had ever asked if she were lesbian: “I think they were trying to be respectful and that it’s my job to say, ‘I’m gay.’ Which I am. For the record: I am gay,” she told Out magazine.
You can find copies of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue at newsstands and online by clicking here.
Rapinoe, Morgan, Dunn and Dahlkemper as well as married couple Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris will face Thailand in the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday, June 11 in Auguste Delaune Stadium in Reims, France, at 3pm EDT. The game will be televised by Fox Telemundo.