After helping the U.S Women’s soccer team win its fourth World Cup championship last month, lesbian co-captain Megan Rapinoe recently sat down with the British newspaper, The Guardian, to discuss her public spat with President Donald Trump, coming out and how she gets along with her Fox News-watching parents.
Earlier this year Rapinoe said “No fuckin’ way” when asked if she and her teammates would visit the White House after winning the World Cup.
Trump responded to Rapinoe via Twitter, stating, “I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose.... Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team.”
Even though her girlfriend, WNBA basketball star Sue Bird, said the president’s tweets kind of “scared the shit” out of her, Rapinoe recently told The Guardian, “It’s ridiculous and absurd. People were like: ‘That was so intense!’ And I’m like: ‘Honestly, he’s a fucking joke, so it wasn’t intense, because this is ridiculous.’”
“The only moment where I was like ‘Aaaargh!’ was when I thought: ‘Is this going to affect the team in some way?’ I didn’t want that to happen. But actually I have the opposite [view of] authority – my sister and I both. I wouldn’t say that we’re anti-authority, but when there’s a person who is abusing their power or manipulating people, whether it’s a teacher when I was younger or Donald Trump now, there’s nothing that fires me up and grinds my gears more. I was just like: ‘No. That’s not happening.’”
“We are everything he loves — [sportspeople, winners, Team America] – with the exception that we’re powerful, strong women. And [Trump] was having a really hard time – you could see in these sets of tweets: you hate us, you love us, you want us to come [to the White House] – and you are threatening us, all at the same time.”
The Guardian points out that Rapinoe has a twin sister and was raised with three siblings in the “small, conservative, largely working-class city” of Redding, California where “her dad runs a construction company and her mum is a waitress.”
Excelling at soccer, track and basketball in high school, she felt awkward for a while as a teen despite being “really confident as a kid.” Rapinoe says:
“[I] had that sense of humor and lightness socially, but it did get awkward for a point. I didn’t really know what was going on and I thought eventually I’d come out of it. And then, once I realized I was gay, I was like, ‘Oh! That’s what it is!’ And then I was ready to go.”
I didn’t struggle to come out. I thought: ‘Well, yeah, obviously, I’m gay.’ Everyone should have told me: it was just [obvious] for my whole childhood — hello?
I thought: ‘This is awesome — and if people aren’t down with it I don’t really care to have them in my life, anyway.’ My parents said: ‘What are people going to say?’ and: ‘We don’t want things to be harder for you.’ But I don’t think I ever saw ways in which it was harder.”
I feel like we can see the world changing around us and we’re a huge part of that, effecting that change. I feel like gay rights — we’ve been a huge part of that. You’re starting to see more players come out. There could be more — I mean, people are still being beat up for being gay.
Part of it is just about talking about it all the time and starting to break down stereotypes. When I came out, people said: ‘OK, you have short hair, we sort of get it.’ But then with Ashlyn [Harris] and Ali [Krieger]coming out, and Kelley [O’Hara] kissing her girlfriend at the World Cup, stuff like that, the younger ones don’t even need to come out, they’re just out. They always were. So that’s been really cool.”
Rapinoe says her parents raised her to support equality for all Americans, regardless of race or sexual orientation, even though they didn’t explicitly state it. She also says it surprises her that her parents aren’t Democrats.
Rapinoe asked rhetorically, “I don’t get it. How are you simultaneously as proud as punch of me, and watching Fox News all the time, [who are doing] takedowns of your daughter?’”
Despite “major blow-ups” with her parents, she says she’s very close to them and talks to them every day.
“I feel like I have seen progress and growth,” Rapinoe says. “I would love it if people understood you should never say racist things and be OK with gay people, or whatever it is. But, obviously, it doesn’t happen that quickly.”
To read more of Rapinoe’s interview with The Guardian, from her thoughts on pay equity, intersectionality and her last minute decision to dye her hair pink, click here.