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Soccer fans boo player who skipped U.S. women’s match over LGBT Pride jerseys

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Jaelene Hinkle said her religious views took precedence.

Portland Thorns fans protest N.C. Courage player Jaelene Hinkle with a sign at Providence Park May 30.
Bennett Dewan

Soccer player Jaelene Hinkle revealed this week that she turned down a chance to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team last year when the team’s LGBT Pride jerseys clashed with what she said are her Christian beliefs.

“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” Hinkle said in an interview with the 700 Club released this week. “I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what he was asking me to do in this situation... I knew in my spirit I was doing the right thing. I knew I was being obedient.”

While people had suspected the Pride jersey was the reason Hinkle turned down the national team for its trip last June to Sweden and Norway, she would only cite “personal reasons.” The 700 Club interview makes it clear with was her faith and how she views its stance on LGBT people that caused her decision.

Portland Thorns fans Wednesday night booed Hinkle, who plays for the North Carolina Courage, when she was introduced, with some fans crafting a sign:

Hinkle did not talk to the media after the game, which prompted openly queer soccer writer Katelyn Best (an Outsports contributor) to write her an open letter on Stumptown Footy

... I don’t know any of your teammates, but if I imagine myself playing alongside you at 21 or 22, still trying to figure out how to be comfortable in my own skin, knowing that you chose to pass up the career opportunity of a lifetime rather than wear a symbol that represents me could only make me feel it wasn’t safe to be who I am.

It doesn’t matter how nice you are in person to the gay people in your life. What matters is that you’ve chosen to stand so staunchly to the conviction that there’s something wrong with them, with this thing that they cannot change about themselves, that you’d pass up the chance to play for your country for it. You cannot hide from the fact that this conviction you have is ultimately a conviction against many of your teammates. You cannot hate the sin but love the sinner when the “sin” is an integral part of a person’s being.

So here’s what I found perplexing last night. You feel strongly enough about this that you were willing to dispel all the speculation and publicly confirm—two days before Pride Month, and the same day you were to play a game in Portland, Oregon, no less—that refusing that call-up was about not wanting to support the LGBT community even passively. Why, then, were you unwilling to answer questions about it? If this is your stance, why won’t you defend it to members of the media?

There is some pushback against Thorns fans who booed her and I suspect Hinkle will becoming a “victim” in certain Christian quarters, being persecuted for her views. She is not being persecuted and is able to play pro soccer. Her skipping a chance to play for the USWNT is her choice and right, and fans who disagree by booing and making signs addressing her views have the same rights.