Photography by Raymond McCrea Jones. Hair and makeup: Amy Elizabeth.
Winning an Olympic gold medal makes you a member of one of the most exclusive clubs on the planet. Unfortunately, membership doesn’t exclude you from the views of your myopic peers.
Before basketball star Angel McCoughtry came out in an Instagram post in April 2015, she had already faced censorship and discrimination. Not from her WNBA team, the Atlanta Dream, but from her teammates in the Turkish Women’s Basketball League, where she plays in the off-season. After posting to Facebook about her engagement to her then-girlfriend Brande Elise, McCoughtry, spurred on by her fellow players, followed up with a public letter, announcing that the two were merely friends. “It’s something I regret,” she says. “I said never again in my life will I not be who I am for anyone.”
Now, on the cusp of competing in her second Olympics, McCoughtry has become a role model. “I was always scared of what the kids would think,” she says. “Like, Are they going to look at me differently?” But, she adds, “My fiancée has made me more comfortable with who I am, with believing in myself, with fighting for the LGBT community and supporting them.” Luckily, some gold medals come with pearls of wisdom.
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