Leslie Robinson

The Swoopes Complications

Filed By Leslie Robinson | July 22, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Gay Icons and History
Tags: basketball, bisexuals, lesbians, Sheryl Swoopes, WNBA

SherylSwoopes.jpg"Now this is going to piss off a lot of lesbians."

That's what I first thought when I heard that basketball star Sheryl Swoopes is engaged to a man. Swoopes came out in 2005 in an interview with ESPN The Magazine, and immediately became an Olivia-endorsing lesbian of fame.

When she played for the WNBA's Seattle Storm in 2008, her then-partner Alisa Scott would often be there, sitting courtside. I know - I looked for her every game from my seat.

Obviously the relationship didn't last, as Swoopes is now set to marry a man named Chris, someone she's known for a while, reported Mechelle Voepel on ESPN.com.

Voepel wrote, "There are sure to be gay people who are annoyed at and disappointed with Swoopes. Who feel she has co-opted and trivialized what for many is a sacred, soul-searching, life-altering experience of coming out."

Yup. And I was one of them, until I thought about the matter more. I've long said that sexuality is complicated; now I have to accept the truth of that, and get past any feelings of betrayal. Nuts.

Voepel said she wasn't surprised by the news. "There were things Swoopes said in her initial interview [in 2005] that had made me think her relationship then was about what kind of person Scott was and how their lives meshed together, regardless of whether Scott was male or female."

The word for that is bisexual, and I think our community would still come out ahead if Swoopes publically called herself that. Perhaps she could have "bisexual" printed on the back of her Tulsa Shock jersey. Just an idea.

Swoopes told Voepel, "There is nothing I've been through in my life that I regret, or that I would go back and change. I feel like everything that happened - personally and professionally - I went through for a reason, and I learned from those things."

From her latest incarnation, we might learn a thing or two about the complexity of orientation. I'm willing. No really.

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Paige Listerud | July 23, 2011 12:55 AM

Shades of Holly Near! Oh my!

So what makes Voepel so absolutely certain that Swoopes is "co-opting and trivializing" the "sacred, soul-searching, life-altering experience of coming out"? How does she know that Swoopes isn't still is coming out--along a much more varied and unpredicted trajectory?

Another thing: coming out for this bisexual was seering, soul-searching, scary, and life-altering. But are lesbians and gay men the only ones whose coming out is sacred and revolutionary? What's my coming out, then? Dirty, sweaty, profane, meaningless and slutty?

All I can advise is never wait for a celebrity to say the right thing that will empower you and validate your life. Also, if you really want more info on fluid sexuality, may I recommend Bi Any Other Name, eds. Loraine Hutchins and Lani Ka'anhumanu. If you're into examining those feelings of loss, invalidation and betrayal, may I recommend Bisexuality adn the Challenge to Lesbian Politics: Sex, Loyalty, and Revolution by Paula Rust-Rodriguez?

But above all, don't go to celebrities for answers. There is a bisexual/pansexual/queer/fluid community and that should be your source for information. I hardly know if Swoopes is even involved in it.