March was Women’s History Month, and on every day of the month, Outsports celebrated the vital role of women in LGBTQ sports by highlighting the individual and team achievements of women and girls.
Our definition includes every aspect of female identification and sexual orientation: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, pansexual, polysexual, asexual and more. There is no one way to be a woman, and all women are worthy of celebration.
Nationwide, this observation of Women’s History Month got underway at the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, each commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of women in American history.
One example of that is the art work by Krystal Quiles, “Girlhood (It’s complicated).” one of more than 200 objects in a Smithsonian exhibition spanning a timeframe of more than 200 years, examining the ways American girls have spoken up, challenged expectations and been on the frontlines of change in politics, education, work, health, and fashion.
As a sports site that focuses on the LGBTQ community, our focus of course is on athletes, coaches and athletic personnel who make a difference in their sport, and display the spirit embodied by our motto: Courage Is Contagious.
We began our month-long celebration with an excerpt from a tribute by our Cyd Zeigler to Billie Jean King.
I dare you to find someone who doesn’t love Billie Jean King.
The legendary tennis player, who has been a champion for women and LGBTQ people for decades, is — and I don’t use this term lightly — a national treasure.
In the 1970s she fought for equal treatment of women in sports and won a massive victory in the Battle of the Sexes. Since the 1980s she has been an out-and-proud icon demanding equality for LGBTQ people. Today she isn’t just revered in the halls of tennis but also, with partner Ilana Kloss, is a part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, helping guide one of the most storied franchises in all of American pro sports toward inclusion.
Several years ago she was named part of one of the three most important moments in LGBTQ sports history. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
To be sure, King’s LGBTQ advocacy got a rocky start. King didn’t get to “come out” on her own terms, she was outed in a palimony suit by her former partner, Marilyn Barnett. Yet King did not reject the mantle of LGBTQ champion, proudly accepting her role as a sudden icon.
On the court, King was the queen of her time and one of the greatest tennis players in history. She won 12 women’s Grand Slam titles (seventh-most of all time), completing a career slam and winning the storied Wimbledon title six times. She added 27 doubles and mixed-doubles Grand Slam titles, making her the third-most decorated player in Grand Slam history.
Since then she has pushed for further equality for LGBTQ people, women and various under-served communities. In 2009 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2014 President Barack Obama named her to his Olympic delegation in an attempt to open international eyes to the presence and success of LGBTQ athletes.
She’s still at it, too. On Sunday, Feb. 28, King was on hand as the women of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association celebrated the first-ever women’s hockey game to be played at the iconic Madison Square Garden and to be nationally-televised.
A night to remember forever.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) March 1, 2021
The first professional women’s hockey game ever played @TheGarden and the first to be broadcast live on national television.
Congratulations to the @PWHPA and all involved in this historic night. pic.twitter.com/jOY7rWpFxK
If you’re not following Billie Jean King on Twitter, what on earth are you waiting for?