Pro soccer player Joanna Lohman, one of America’s most outspoken gay professional sports competitors, is stepping off the field for good, but not from the sport.

“I’ve been adored for being a gay, out professional athlete. That is a privilege,” Lohman told the Washington Post. “I want to be a strong, central voice in the community and to really work toward gaining equality for not just the LGBTQ community but all minorities.”

Lohman announced her retirement from the Washington Spirit and the National Women’s Soccer League Monday with a post on her personal Facebook page, accompanied by a photo declaring: “I’m retiring!” You can read her post below or by clicking here.

After 16 years of playing pro soccer, I have decided it's time to say goodbye to the game and HELLO to the bright future…

Posted by Joanna Lohman on Monday, April 8, 2019

As Jason Anderson reported in Black And Red United, Lohman scored the winning goal Saturday night in the Spirit’s 1-0 victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies, in the second half, to give Washington the win.

Joanna Lohman and teammates celebrate following their victory over Virginia Tech Saturday, April 6, 2019.

In her Facebook post, Lohman told fans and followers:

“After 16 years of playing pro soccer, I have decided it’s time to say goodbye to the game and HELLO to the bright future ahead of me.

“Saturday night was an incredible way to go out (scoring the winning goal!!) and I want to thank EVERYONE who has been a part of this beautiful journey. While it is a hard decision, it is made easier by the fact I have the support of my friends, family, teammates, fans and the entire Washington Spirit organization.

“I am so excited for what comes next, including the role of Spirit Ambassador, HUGE retirement game on June 22nd (Pride Night), speaking tours all over the country, sports diplomacy around the world, giving the gift of beauty through my online course, and who knows…maybe I will even run for office!

“So, let’s keep this rainbow party rocking. I love you ALL!!!!!!!”

The 37-year-old has been resilient throughout her career. Before the Spirit, Lohman played for the Washington Freedom in the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer league and for the amateur D.C. United Women. She tore her ACL just minutes into the Spirit’s 2017 season opener, went into rehab and returned for the 2018 season opener, scoring a goal.

As Anderson noted in another Black and Red United article, Lohman has also played for clubs on three continents. She played with the USWNT 9 times and is well-known as an advocate for the LGBTQ community, going so far as to wear the equality symbol used by Human Rights Campaign in her mohawk. As the Washington Post reported, Lohman calls herself “Rainbow Warrior.”

Joanna Lohman

As Katelyn Best reported in Outsports in January, Lohman’s distinctive hairstyle — aka “the JoHawk” — and love of rainbow flags makes her “visibly queer.”

“I always say I got hit by the gay stick and came flying out of the closet,” she told Best. The Silver Spring, Md. resident said she thought of herself as straight and was engaged to a man by age 21. “Then I realized I had feelings for another woman.”

”From that point on,” Lohman said about her life after graduating from Penn State, “it wasn’t all roses and cotton candy, but I knew I was a lesbian, and I wanted to live that life authentically.”

And she’s done so, not just here in the U.S. but in Sweden, Spain and Japan, and she’s been an envoy for the State Department.

“I’ve been to 39 different countries, so I have a lot of perspective on what it’s like to be a lesbian around the world,” she told Best. And she plans to continue her work for the State Department in her retirement.

“I realize how lucky I am to have this platform and to be able to have this voice and be adored for it,” Loham said in an interview with the Washington Post.

Her new role will be community outreach which the club said will be “based on soccer’s power to discover and define one’s self-worth and beauty.”

The Spirit will retire Lohman’s No. 15 jersey on the team’s very first Pride Night, June 22.

Watch Joanna’s video message to her fans below, or view it on Facebook by clicking here.

Posted by Joanna Lohman on Monday, April 8, 2019