In honor of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, ESPNW.com is counting down the top 40 female athletes of the last 40 years. We thought we would take this opportunity to make our own list to highlight the Top 12 Out Lesbian/Bisexual Female Athletes of the last four decades.
Vicky Galindo and Lauren Lappin
Lauren Lappin and Vicky Galindo were teammates on the U.S. Olympic Softball Team that took home a Silver Medal in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Before the Olympics Galindo was featured in an article in The Advocate in which she came out as bisexual. Lappin also came out as a lesbian before the 2008 Olympics. She candidly discussed how difficult it was for her to come out because of the lesbian stereotypes that pervade softball. Her honesty in speaking about how stereotypes can actually make it harder, not easier, for female athletes to come out is refreshing and thought provoking particularly when thinking about why other athletes do not come out. Though softball was dropped as an Olympic sport after the 2008 games, we can catch these ladies on the field with National Pro Fastpitch Softball league.
The first of the tennis players on my list is Amelie Mauresmo. Over her career that ended in 2009, Mauresmo was ranked number one in the world, won 25 singles titles including two major championships (the 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon Championships), and won a Silver Medal at the Olympics.
She may be best remembered for her 1999 showing at the Australian Open. As an unseeded 19-year-old, Mauresmo made it to the finals of the tournament before losing to Martina Hingis. During the tournament she came out to the international media after being pestered with questions about whether she had a boyfriend and about the woman who was constantly by her side. In response she stated simply, “You can say she’s my girlfriend. You can write about her. I don’t want to hide Sylvie. I love her.” For that statement she will always have the love and respect of lesbians everywhere.
Vaillancourt came our publicly as a freshman at Harvard University and made it clear that if her sexuality was a problem with her team there was no point in her staying at the school. Her sexuality must not have been an issue because she went on to be one of the best players in the history of a program that has seen more than its share of great hockey players. Vaillancourt won the Patty Kazmaier award in 2008 as the best player in women’s college hockey. She won a Gold Medal with Team Canada in the Torino and Vancouver Olympic games. Vaillancourt is only 26 years old and looks to be a staple of the Canadian National Team for years to come.
Natasha Kai was a three-time player of the year in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) during her time at the University of Hawaii. She was the first player win both WAC Rookie and Player of the Year in the same year. She played for the U.S. Women’s National Team in the 2007 World Cup and in the 2008 Olympics. Kai was one of two out athletes on Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In Beijing Team USA brought home gold after Kai’s extra time goal against Canada in the quarterfinal sent the team into the medal round. Kai currently plays for the Philadelphia Independence in the WPS.
Gro Hammerseng won a Gold Medal for Norway in the Beijing Olympics in the team handball competition and has also won two Silver Medals in the World Championships and three Gold Medals in the European Championships. She was named 2007 IHF Handballer of the year. She and teammate Katja Nyberg announced that they were a couple in 2005 but split up in 2010. Last year she and teammate, Anja Edin, went public with their relationship when they announced that Hammerseng was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Mio, who was born in 2012.