Tierna Davidson says she 'won't shy away' from providing queer representation on the field with the USWNT. | Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

On the list of teams that hold a sacred space in the pantheon of LGBTQ sports, the USWNT is at the very top.

Because of that, any out player on the latest iteration of the squad inherits the lineage of luminaries like Megan Rapinoe, Ali Krieger, Abby Wambach, and Ashlyn Harris.

Defender Tierna Davidson has emerged as one of the leaders of the 2024 edition, which will soon be competing in the Paris Olympics. As one of the most prominent players on the team who identifies as LGBTQ, the 25-year-old is aware of her responsibility to represent the community.

“I think that there’s no illusion that the ratio of queerness on the team has decreased a little bit, at least with players that are out,” she explained to The Athletic’s Steph Yang.

“And so I think it’s important to recognize that I am part of that ratio, and that it is important to bring issues to the table that are important to me and to my community, and be able to be that representative for people that look up to queer athletes and see themselves in me on the field.”

In fact, because there are fewer out queer representatives on the USWNT, Davidson understood that her voice carried more significance. Because of that, she vowed to be the public face that LGBTQ soccer fans need to see on the team.

“I think that’s so important to continue to be that positive role model for my community. And so I’ll continue to do that. And I’ll continue to be proud of myself and my family and my partner, and I won’t shy away from that at any time,” she said.

Davidson celebrates with teammates Casey Krueger and Catarina Macario in the USWNT Pride kits | Brad Smith/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images

Of course, when a leader of the USWNT so willingly takes on being a public representative for the LGBTQ community, it’s natural for media and fans to immediately invoke Rapinoe’s name.

It’s a comparison that Davidson was upfront about addressing, even if she confessed that it would be impossible to fill the void Rapinoe left.

“When it comes to leadership, when it comes to Pride and queer allyship and boosting that community and being so outspoken, sometimes I’m just in awe of how she’s able to carry herself despite all of the obstacles that are put in front of her, despite — quite frankly — people wanting to tear her down,” Davidson explained.

“I, obviously, am not that same personality. And I don’t think that I could ever get to that level of… I don’t know how else to put it… but just like, not giving a f—,” she added.

Even though she ultimately wouldn’t compare her activism to Rapinoe’s, it was clear that Davidson still possessed two of the most important qualities for an LGBTQ leader: introspection and honesty.

Both of those characteristics have also made her a mentor for her USWNT teammates, especially as the club has adjusted to a new coaching staff under Emma Hayes while simultaneously preparing for the Paris Games.

As Davidson reflected, the process has required both players and coaches to learn about each other on the fly, describing it as “we give a little bit, they give a little bit.”

The signs are already promising. The NJ/NY Gotham FC star scored twice in Saturday’s 4-0 win over South Korea in Colorado, when the team wore jerseys with numbers in Progress Pride flag colors.

The USWNT Instagram account later shared a comment from Davidson: “Oh, it’s Pride Month, so now the gays get to score!” She put a similar caption in her own post.

Following the USWNT’s shocking ouster at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the Olympics will represent an opportunity for the team to put themselves back on the map on the global stage.

Whatever transpires on the pitch in Paris, it’s clear that Davidson will ensure that the next generation of LGBTQ representation on the team will be in good hands.