WNBA star Sue Bird and professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe made history as the first same-sex couple to be featured in ESPN’s Body Issue.
Rapinoe, 32, is the midfielder/winger for the Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League and is on the U.S. women’s national team. She served as guest editor of the Washington Blade’s sports issue in 2014. Bird, 37, is a point guard for the Seattle Storm. The couple was a part of 14 other athletes who all posed nude for the 10th annual issue.
“I think neither of us really wants to just do things and be like, ‘We’re the gay couple,’” Rapinoe told ESPN. “But to have this really unique vehicle to actually do that, to celebrate who we are in our sport, but also the fact that we’ll be the first gay couple, is pretty special. It’s pretty amazing to think about, especially in the times we’re in. Just think of how far we’ve come, but also the current climate and defiance in the face of that. Not only are we female athletes, but we’re dating as well. It’s kind of badass.”
Bird added, “Yeah, I think it’ll probably be even more badass later. A year, five years, 10 years, 20 years, to look back and be like, ‘Oh, they were the first openly gay couple to be on the cover, to be in the issue.’”
Figure skater Adam Rippon also posed nude for the shoot and revealed he hopes gay athletes can just be seen as athletes in future Olympics.
“I hope the focus isn’t on them being out but on their incredible stories and all the work it took to be there. It was kind of nuts, but it was funny: Through the course of the Olympics, it was like, ‘Gay Olympian Adam Rippon.’” Then it was just ‘Olympian Adam Rippon,’” Rippon said.