Although lesbian soccer fans have had an idea Megan Rapinoe played for our team since she was part of the WPS, the 27-year-old Olympian had yet to say so in public until a few weeks ago. She talked with Out magazine about being not only gay, but out and proud, which has only given the towheaded mid-fielder more of a spotlight leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Photo courtesy of Nike
We talked with Megan yesterday while she was on a train ride from Washington, D.C. up to Newark, New Jersey where she was meeting up with her team to fly to London.
AfterEllen.com: Happy birthday!
Megan Rapinoe: Oh, thank you!
AE: How was your birthday?
MR:It was good — just some family stuff. Pretty uneventful! Kind of nice. Just chilled out.
AE: You are a twin — did you spend time with your sister — Rachael, right?
MR: Yeah, I am a twin. I didn’t because she’s living down in Texas right now so we didn’t get to spend our birthdays together, unfortunately.
AE: It’s been a big week, right? It’s been a big gay week!
MR: It has. It’s been a big gay week. Big gay Monday!
AE: You, Anderson Cooper, Frank Ocean —
MR: Frank Ocean! Everyone came out the same week.
AE: You said in your OUT interview that you’ve kind of always been out — how did that interview come about?
MR: I’ve been out to friends and family and teammates and anybody, if I hadn’t really told them, knew that I was gay. It’s different being out publicly then just out in your personal life. I guess since we live in our lives in the public eye a little bit and the increased attention on our team and everybody’s, I guess, personal attention has increased — I don’t know, I just felt like I was leaving something out and omitting something and not being 100 percent truthful. Even though I never lied about anything. The world is sort of presumably straight, so I think I wasn’t wanting to be assumed [to be straight] or have people believe that. I’m obviously very proud of who I am. I couldn’t be happier with who I am. It was something that was important to me.
AE: So did you reach out to them?
MR: It’s been almost a year now. They reached out to me, I believe, last year after the World Cup and wanted to do something in the Out 100 issue but it didn’t work out, our schedules, at the time I was gone they were doing it. But it kind of came to be in the last few months that it worked out for both parties.
AE: Obviously with going to the Olympics there’s so much attention on you and your team. Basically you have a coach, Pia, who is out, correct?
MR: I believe so, yeah.
AE: Was there encouragement from other people or did this just come from within?
MR: I mean, I think it came from me. Obviously when I started telling people, they were encouraging and supportive of me. I was talking to friends and we mulled it over a little bit and there didn’t seem to be any downside at all. I think all of the reactions I’ve gotten have been totally supportive and completely positive.
Photo courtesy of Team USA
AE: After the World Cup, which was huge, tons of new soccer fans were introduced to you and now you’re household names. What’s it like to suddenly have a bunch of people recognize you and suddenly rooting for you? Have you felt the difference?
MR: Yeah, we’ve felt a huge difference, I think. In the beginning, to be honest, it was pretty strange. I definitely hadn’t had that and I think the team as a whole hasn’t had that kind of interest that we’ve had after the World Cup. I mean, we didn’t even win and some people think that we won! They still think that we won! I think a kind of perfect storm emerged for us to be in the media spotlight and it really hadn’t died down that much. If anything I’d say it has gotten bigger. Our games are selling out and if it’s not sold out, very close to it, the buzz around the team has just been incredible. We’re much more used to it now. I think in the beginning it was very strange. Cool, obviously, an amazing feeling. But it was very different.
AE: Was that another push for you? Like “I’ve got the spotlight now — what can I do with it?”
MR: Not so much — I don’t think it wasn’t really for any premise or popularity gain or anything. I can see how it can be construed as that. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a bit. It’s a positive thing we’re in the spotlight and have a lot of media attention on us and can make a big impact. I think it’s good a lot of people are going to know.