The 10th anniversary edition of ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue made history this week by featuring three out LGBTQ athletes — the most in the history of the striking annual photo portfolio. WNBA All-Star Sue Bird, women’s soccer standout Megan Rapinoe and skating Olympian Adam Rippon all grace the pages of the 2018 issue.
Bird and Rapinoe, who are pictured together and have been dating since since 2016, became the first LGBTQ couple in the magazine’s history to pose together.
“Having a gay couple on there hopefully just becomes the norm,” Bird said in a video interview with Rapinoe for espnW. “For us to be on it is the first step in that direction.”
Past issues have featured LGBTQ athletes including Rapinoe (2014), duathlete Chris Mosier, the first transgender athlete to be featured, and Olympic diver Greg Louganis (2016) and Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy (2017). LGBTQ representation in athletics is incredibly important, with visibility paving the way for other athletes to feel more comfortable living their truths.
In an interview with espnW last summer, Bird came out as lesbian and confirmed she was in a relationship with Rapinoe. The Seattle Storm star reflected on her journey, saying she decided 2017 was the right time for her to come out publicly. She also encouraged others to come out at a time that felt most authentic to them.
“It’s happening when it’s happening because that’s what feels right,” Bird said in the interview. “I have to be true to that. It’s my journey.”
HRC highlighted Bird in our 2017 National Coming Out Day campaign.
This is the second time Rapinoe has posed for the Body Issue — she became the first openly LGBTQ athlete featured in the magazine in 2014.
Rapinoe is a professional soccer player who competes for the Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League. As a member of the 2015 U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, she helped Team USA to a FIFA Women’s World Cup gold medal.
Rapinoe came out as lesbian in 2012 in an interview with Out magazine and since then has been a trailblazer working tirelessly for the rights of LGBTQ athletes.
“I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out,” Rapinoe said in the interview. “People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.”
A longtime HRC supporter, Rapinoe joined HRC’s #LoveConquersHate campaign in 2013 in support of Russia’s LGBTQ community ahead of the Sochi Olympic Games.
Rippon made history as the first openly gay U.S. American male figure skater to compete in the Winter Olympics. Before heading to Pyeongchang, he sat down in an exclusive interview with HRC’s Mark Lee to discuss this powerful moment and what it means for LGBTQ history.
“I couldn’t have done this [shoot] while I was in the closet,” Rippon told ESPN. “I think that with my experience of coming out, I felt so liberated in so many ways.”
Earlier this year, we presented Rippon with the HRC Visibility Award at the HRC Los Angeles Gala, where he gave an impassioned speech about being a role model to LGBTQ youth and empowering and encouraging those around us to be confident in their authentic selves.
The 2018 Body Issue hits stands on Friday. Flip through the digital photo shoot here.