Soccer player Megan Rapinoe and basketball player Sue Bird have become the first same-sex couple to appear on the cover of ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue.
The two athletes — who were photographed while nude — added historical significance to the magazine’s tenth anniversary edition. That historical significance was not lost on Rapinoe.
“I think it’s important to do these things first. It’s important for people to come out. Visibility is important,” Rapinoe said. “I feel like [there are] a lot of negative ideas that hopefully I can break down just by being myself.”
Rapinoe believes the photo shoot couldn’t have come at a more important time.
“It’s pretty amazing to think about [being on the cover of the Body Issue], especially in the times we’re in,” she said. “Just think of how far we’ve come, but also the current climate. Not only are we female athletes, but we’re dating as well. It’s kind of badass.”
As for Bird, she thinks the significance of appearing in the magazine as a couple, will only grow with time.
“Yeah, I think it’ll probably be even more bad-ass later,” Bird said. The Seattle Storm point guard continued, “A year, five years, 10 years, 20 years, to look back and be like, ‘Oh, they were the first openly gay couple to be in the issue.’”
According to People, “The couple join 14 other athletes who also stripped down for the annual issue, including figure skater Adam Rippon. The bronze-medalist Olympian, who is also openly gay, similarly talked about how this is a major moment for queer people.”
Rapinoe, a Hillary Clinton supporter during the 2016 election, is well-known for having protested the national anthem while wearing the colors of Team U.S.A. She also once stood for the Thai anthem before kneeling for the American anthem.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn