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Elena Delle Donne inspired this young gay athlete to ‘love basketball again’

Letter to an LGBTQ role model: Runner Susie Poore tells Elena Delle Donne how much she inspired her.

Susie Poore was a runner in college.
Susie Poore was a runner in college.

In honor of Pride Month, Outsports is asking LGBTQ people in sports to write a letter to a role model. The only criteria is that the role model identifies as LGBTQ. Today, runner Susie Poore writes to basketball player Elena Delle Donne.

Dear Elena,

I still remember the first time I stepped onto a basketball court.

I was 8 years old and about a foot taller than everyone else my age, so I naturally found myself underneath a hoop. At that point, I was old enough to begin feeling like a stranger in my own body — both for my size and the fact that my heart seemed to work and love in different ways than my teammates.

I grew up thinking that there wasn’t space for me to be my full self on the basketball court, even though my sport was the only place where life made sense. Where I made sense. I stopped playing when I was 16. It felt like my lesbian and athlete identities had to be mutually exclusive; there wasn’t anyone who looked like me. The dividing line was becoming too difficult to walk.

Chicago Sky v Washington Mystics
Elena Delle Donne
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

That all changed when I started watching the WNBA six years later. You weren’t playing at the time because of your back, but it wasn’t long before I came to know your name and your story.

As I watched and read and listened to all the parts of yourself that you shared with the world, I finally felt seen. You showed me who I could be. What I could do. How I could love — fiercely, openly, and proudly. You helped me find the sense of home in sports that I’d been looking for since I was a kid. You made me love basketball again.

And, you sparked pride in my lesbian athlete identity by having the bravery to simply exist as yourself. That’s something I’ll be celebrating every month of the year for the rest of my life.

Thank you for being the person I needed when I was young.

Sincerely,
Susie

Susie Poore (she/her) is currently a master’s student in NYU’s Media, Culture, and Communication Department. Her research focuses on the intersection of queerness, sports media, and lesbian identity. Driven by her goal of making sports a more inclusive and open space for queer and trans folks, Susie will pursue career in coaching and college athletics after completing her degree. In her free time, she can be found at the kickboxing gym or watching WNBA games with her dog, Bruno.

Read Poore’s coming out story.

If you want to write a letter to an LGBTQ role model, drop us a message at outsports@gmail.com or direct message Twitter or Instagram (@outsports).