WNBA Player Brittney Griner Says Coming Out Gives Others Strength To Do The Same

Everyone is talking about Basketball play Jason Collins and his recent public announcement that he is gay. He has gotten a lot of media attention and spoke about it candidly with Oprah Winfrey. The Boston Celtics center, 34, says one of the reasons he chose to come out publicly was to use his public position as a way to inspire young people who are struggling with their sexuality not to be afraid.

Jason Collins with Oprah Winfrey

But we recently read the story of another ball player, WNBA star Brittney Griner who wrote about her experience of “coming out” in the New York Times. The 22 year old Phoenix Mercury center shares a very different journey to Collins’ and also explains that she didn’t feel the need to do a press tour, as such, when she made her announcement.

She came out to her mom in the 9th grade and said her mom hugged her and told her she still loves and accepts her. This is definitely not always a common occurrence for young gay and lesbian people who come out to loved ones. She is lucky and blessed to have a supportive family.

For Brittney, her battle came from outside sources. Growing up in high school it was the male bullies, and now it is all the cyber bullies who she says are relentless.

“I was bullied in every way imaginable, but the worst was the verbal abuse. People called me a dude and said there was no way I could be a woman. Some even wanted me to prove it to them. During high school and college, when we traveled for games, people would shout the same things while also using racial epithets and terrible homophobic slurs.”

Brittney Griner

Griner goes on to explain while she didn’t always feel like she fitted in, she knows now there was a higher purpose to enduring what she did.

“When I was young, I put on a face as if it didn’t hurt, but it’s painful to be called hateful names and made fun of…It always confused me; I never thought that to be beautiful, you had to look any certain way at all. In my opinion, you’re beautiful because you are you.”

“I’ve had moments when I questioned my place in the world…It’s taken me a long time to figure out exactly where I fit. During that journey, I realized that everyone has a unique place in this world. I just had to hang in there and be myself.”

She feels for all the young kids in high school who are relentlessly bullied and daily made to feel bad about who they are. While she has been in their shoes, her advice is to hang in there. She may have had an easy coming out experience, but to date the worst type of bullying she experiences in on twitter and instagram. But now that she is an adult and has been through a lot and has a platform from which to speak, she feel it is important she is a spokesperson for other gay kids who won’t know where to turn. She wants to be able to encourage those kids not to give up fighting or change who they are because of negativity and bullying.

brittney-griner-

She has advice for those who haven’t yet come out or are contemplating it. For her, being open and honest was something that helped her a lot. She is involved with It Gets Better, an organization whose mission is to inspire hope for young people facing harassment and bullying. Griner hopes to see all bullying end.

“Nobody should have to hear the types of things I did or to feel the way I have. The good news is that I do see change coming. It might be slow, but there are so many positive signs.”

Now Brittney not only has a career as a WNBA player, but has the responsibility to inspire others.

“Countless people have come up to me and thanked me for being proud of who I am. It’s my job now to, I hope, be a light who inspires others.”

Whether you agree with her lifestyle, applaud her bravery or have things in your own life you are struggling to come to terms with, there is a message here for us all. Bad things happen to everyone, no matter who you are. We can use to let them get us down, or fight through it and use those experiences as a beacon of hope to others who come after us, just like Brittney is doing.

Are you scared to come out to your friends, family and loved ones? Have a story to share with us? Tell us below!

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