U.S. women's soccer team midfielder Megan Rapinoe publicly announced that she is a lesbian for the first time on Monday, less than a month before the London Olympic Games.
Rapinoe, 26, who is best known for her stellar athletic skills and upbeat personality, wants her coming out story to empower LGBT people, USA Today reported.
Though she has been openly gay to her family and teammates for quite some time, she candidly spoke about her sexuality during an interview with Out:
For the record: I am gay, she told the gay magazine.
She explained to USA Today Sports in a phone interview Monday evening why she chose to publicly address her sexuality now.
To be honest, I've been thinking about it for a while, trying to find a time that works. Now leading up to the Olympics, people want to get personal stories, she says. Our team in general is in a position where people look up to us and kids look up to us. I embrace that and I think I have a huge LGBT following. I think it's pretty cool, the opportunity that I have, especially in sports. There's really not that many out athletes. It's important to be out and to live my life that way.
It's about standing up and being counted and saying you're proud of who you are.
Rapinoe, who also plays for the Seattle Sounders of the Major League Soccer women's division, told USA Today she has been getting positive feedback after her announcement.
It's been good, she says. It's all been extremely positive, which makes me really happy.
Rapinoe came out on the same day Anderson Cooper did as well in a letter that was published by the Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan.
The CNN journalist, confirming widespread assumptions, said, The fact is, I'm gay.
Rapinoe, an avid Twitter user, retweeted BuzzFeed's Retweet this if you have a crush on @AndersonCooper.
But don't get too excited just yet, ladies, she's been dating her girlfriend, an Australian soccer player, for three years and it's pretty serious. She brought her home to meet her family in Northern California last winter, USA Today reported.
Now that Rapinoe has publicly stated she's a lesbian, she also opened up about her obsession with British actress Tilda Swinton.
According to SheWired she said, I'm totally obsessed with Tilda Swinton. She has this strange, beautiful sexiness about her. I love everything she does. And I love her hair. It was a little bit of an inspiration for mine.
The soccer player explained that she knew she was gay by her first year in college and although it wasn't easy, her family accepted her when she came out to them.
I just kind of sat them down and told them, she says. My mom, whether it's right or wrong, she had dreams for me to have a certain life. It takes time to get used to that. But they've been really supportive and they love me for exactly who I am.
When asked about whether or not it's okay to date teammates, Rapinoe said to USa Today that it's fine as long as both people are mature enough to handle a possible breakup.
I think it's different for everybody. You never want to create any kind of drama, she says. Sometimes when you date people you end up breaking up and if teammates are mature enough to deal with that, then it's okay. I never want to bring any undue drama to the team.
She also deplored that it's more difficult for men on sports teams to admit their sexuality.
In female sports, if you're gay, most likely your team knows it pretty quickly, she said to Out. It's very open and widely supported. For males, it's not that way at all. It's sad.
The U.S. women's soccer team is leaving London on July 10 where they will try to win its fourth gold medal after five Olympic games.