Orlando Pride takes on a whole new meaning this June as Pride Month continues to be celebrated. In 2018, the LGBT community is more prevalent than ever, with the glitter and gusto to prove it. However, pride has been around Orlando for a lot longer than the team, and the soccer world is no different!
There are many gay soccer players all over the world, even one who was part of Orlando Pride in 2015 and 2016: Lianne Sanderson. Sanderson came out publicly in her twenties and was in the first openly gay relationship in professional sports. She went on to play in several international competitions, including the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Other notable players that wear the LGBTQ colors inside while they have their team colors on outside include (but in no way limited to):
Jess Fishlock is a Welsh midfielder and coach who co-captains Seattle Reign FC in the American National Women’s Soccer League. She has made history several times, and was named the NWSL First XI in 4 of her 5 seasons with Seattle, the NWSL Second XI in 2016, and has been recognized as the NWSL Player of the Week four times. Fishlock is an LGBT activist and uses her influence to back Athlete Ally and spread awareness about LGBT in sports.
Natasha Kai is an American professional soccer forward and Olympic gold medalist, and was one of only three openly gay individuals on the 2008 USA Summer Olympic Team. She became the first-ever player from Hawaii to play for the full Women’s National Team and to make a Women’s World Cup Team, and was the fourth player in USWNT history to score in her first two caps.
Megan Rapinoe is an American professional soccer midfielder/winger who plays for the Seattle Reign FC in the National Women's Soccer League. She played with the U.S. women’s national soccer team, which won gold at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and 2012 London Olympics, and silver at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. In 2013, she was awarded the Board of Directors Award by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.
Keelin Winters is a retired American defensive midfielder who last played for the Seattle Reign FC of the NWSL, a team she captained to two consecutive NWSL Shield wins. In 2008, she captained her team to win gold at the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Chile and scored the game-winning goal in the quarterfinal match against England. She started a coaching business, Pro Skills Soccer, and is also an ambassador for Athlete Ally.
These amazing women have shown the sports world that, just like women’s sports, LGBTQ athletes are some of the finest in the world. Moreover, that we can support and nurture all our sports with growing understanding and unity. Division is for teams — NOT PEOPLE. :)
Pride month is a time for the celebration of equality, and that’s no different in the world of sports! For more about Pride Month see the Human Rights Campaign — For more information on the Orlando Pride team and its history, check out our blog!