LGBTQ+ Pride Month

How This ‘ESPN The Magazine’ Body Issue Cover Makes A Statement And Makes History

"Visibility is important."

For the past decade ESPN The Magazine's annual Body Issue has been making a splash, but this year it has given the LGBTQ community a cause for celebration. In addition to Adam Rippon being among the roster of included athletes, the publication also features its first openly gay couple on the cover: basketball's Sue Bird and soccer's Megan Rapinoe.

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"I think it's important to do these things first. It's important for people to come out. Visibility is important," Rapinoe told the magazine in a sit-down Q&A with Bird, moderated by ESPN's very own Jemele Hill. "I feel like [there are] a lot of negative ideas that hopefully I can break down just by being myself."

For those of you who don't follow the world of sports close enough to recognize these two, we've got you covered. Bird — who came out in 2017 — is point guard for the Seattle Storm and is a 10-time WNBA All-Star while Rapinoe — who came out in 2012 — is a forward for the Seattle Reign FC and was on the team that won the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Clearly these two, who have both been to the Olympics, are titans in their sports.

The couple — who made history with every flash of the camera — is putting attention not only on what it means today but focusing on the impact these photographs will have for future generations.

"I think neither of us really wants to just do things and be like, 'We're the gay couple.' 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," Rapinoe explained. "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 of that. Not only are we female athletes, but we're dating as well. It's kind of badass."

"Yeah, I think it'll probably be even more badass later," Bird added. "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.' "

In terms of what it means for them to now be a symbol for LGBTQ folks, Bird called this "the first step" in the direction toward helping this "become the norm" and to make it "not be an issue." One day they'll be able to strip down together and just be like any other couple. That day can't come soon enough.

ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue is available on newsstands June 29.

Cover image: Radka Leitmeritz / ESPN The Magazine | @mrapinoe / Instagram | @sbird10 / Instagram

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