Ex-Lesbian: WNBA Star's Coming Out Stems From Sex-Saturated Society
By Jim Brown
November 8, 2005
(AgapePress) - A former lesbian activist who became a Christian says she is saddened but not surprised by Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Sheryl Swoopes' decision to announce her homosexuality.
Swoopes, a three-time Olympic gold medallist and four-time WNBA champion, currently plays for the Houston Comets. The all-star athlete, who came out of the closet about her homosexuality to The Advocate and ESPN The Magazine last month, admits she was not born a lesbian but simply fell in love with a close female friend who advised and supported her during a time when her marriage was on the rocks.
Swoopes told ESPN The Magazine that she considers herself a Christian but resents it when people use religious arguments to judge her behavior. The Houston Comets forward's decision to declare her lesbianism has become a much publicized source of concern for some pro-family observers, who fear her announcement could prompt some young female athletes to think their strong feelings for their girl friends should be expressed sexually.
Former lesbian Yvette Schneider works with the ministry "Women Into Sports" and also helps other sports ministries deal with the issue of lesbianism from a biblical perspective. She says Swoopes' lesbian lifestyle is similar to that of many female college athletes who call themselves LUGs, or "lesbians until graduation."
Schneider does not see in Swoopes' recent divulgence any affirmation of the prevalence of lesbianism in society, necessarily. Rather, she says she views it as "more a comment on our sex-saturated society -- that if you care for someone and have a strong emotional connection with them, then it must be sexualized in some way rather than just merely having strong feelings for a close friend."
In fact, the sports ministry consultant contends, Swoopes' lesbian relationship has nothing to do with what is commonly known as a "lesbian core identity," where an individual acknowledges having experienced same-sex attractions since childhood. For the WNBA star, as she herself acknowledges, homosexuality was not an inborn trait but was a conscious choice.
And the athlete's revelation of that choice came as no surprise to Schneider. She was, however, taken aback by the double standard with which Swoopes' announcement has largely been met.
"What surprised me," Schneider says, "was that there was no real mention of the fact that her relationship began with an assistant coach, Alisa Scott, on the Houston Comets; whereas, if a woman started having a relationship with a man who was coaching her, we'd hear about that being sexual abuse, molestation, or some sort of [suggestion that] she was coerced into a sexual relationship."
Scott served as an assistant coach in Houston for seven years before resigning her post some months ago. Her former position as a liaison between the head coach and the players gave her considerable authority and influence, a fact that leads Schneider to believe that more attention should be focused on the ethical questions surrounding Scott's personal relationship with a member of the team.