It is still a hostile world to be a LGBTI athlete.
Thankfully, the Women’s World Cup is here to show that you can be both LGBTI and excellent in your sport.
This year, there are at least 41 openly gay or bisexual women in the World Cup in France this year.
While the game may appear more welcoming, there are undoubtedly soccer stars that don’t feel able to come out – with valid reasons.
Some may be from homophobic countries like Cameroon and are concerned for their safety. Others may be concerned about sponsorship.
But let’s celebrate these women who are inspiring others around the globe:
Lorena Benítez (Argentina)
Even at age 20, Lorena Benítez is considered one of the most outstanding football players in the world. She made her senior debut as part of the Argentina squad in just March this year.
On 6 May, shortly before the tournament began, her wife gave birth to twins.
Sam Kerr (Australia)
Sam Kerr, 25, is the captain of the Matildas (Australian national side).
She is the only ever Australian to score a hat trick at a World Cup when she scored four times against Jamaica in the group stages of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
After a thrilling defeat against Brazil in the previous game, Kerr famously told her ‘haters’ to go and ‘suck on that one’.
Kerr is in a relationship with her Perth Glory and Chicago Red Stars teammate Nikki Stanton.
Chloe Logarzo (Australia)
The talented 24-year-old plays midfield for Sydney FC and is currently on loan to Washington Spirit.
Logarzo once told the Lifted Brow she was not worried about revealing her sexuality because, ‘if it was going to tarnish my image then it’s not the image I want because I’m not telling the truth’.
She has been in a relationship with US softballer Jasmine Peters since 2017.
Tegan Micah (Australia)
Tegan Micah, 21, is a goalkeeper for the Matildas and the UCLA Bruins in the United States’ National Collegiate Athletics Association.
She said playing for the national side has been a lifelong dream.
‘I was completely surprised and it was definitely the best moment of my life. It was also such a relief knowing that all the sacrifices that I have made have been worth it,’ she told the LA Times.
Tameka Yallop (Australia)
Tameka Yallop (neé Butt) married her Klepp IL teammate, Kirsty Yallop, in New Zealand earlier this year after a double proposal in 2017.
Yallop has played for the Matildas since 2007, but has also played professionally in Australia, the US, Japan, Germany, Norway and Sweden.
Kadeisha Buchanan (Canada)
At the last Women’s World Cup in 2015, Kadeisha won the Young Player World proving herself as one of the best defenders.
Kadeisha played college soccer at West Virginia University, where she co-captained the team, and won numerous awards. She then went onto three different smaller teams before ending up at Olympique Lyonnais.
She was also called up to the Canadian national team when she was still in high school.
Kadeisha is currently dating a track and field star.
Stephanie Labbé (Canada)
A men’s team was so desperate for goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé to play for them, but sadly she couldn’t because of her gender. In response, she filed suit against the team.
In 2009, she was scouted by Swedish team Piteå IF – playing for the highest league in women’s football.
With the rest of the team, she won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics.
She recently moved in together with Georgia Simmerling, an Olympic cyclist.
Rebecca Quinn (Canada)
Duke University coach called Rebecca Quinn the ‘best player [he’s] coached in 17 years’.
She’s dating girlfriend Jill, who she met while studying in North Carolina.
Kailen Sheridan (Canada)
Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan also plays for Sky Blue, a team in New Jersey.
She made her debut to the national team in 2016.
Fernanda Pinilla (Chile)
25-year-old Fernanda Pinilla plays as a defender for Spanish club Córdoba CF, as well as the Chile women’s national team.
She also has a degree in Physics from the University of Chile.
Pinilla publicly came out as a lesbian last year via social media and said it’s getting better in Chile for LGBTI rights but the country still has a long way to go.
On living life as an openly lesbian soccer player in Chile, Pinilla said in an interview this year: ‘Many parents do not let their daughters play soccer because they say it’s an environment in which there are many lesbians. They see homosexuality as a danger.’
Beth Mead (England)
Forward Beth Mead has represented England at every age level from under-15.
She started her football career aged 10.
During her final year of University, she agreed to work as a barmaid in her local pub during the off-season. This was because the owners had previously provided her with sponsorship funding.
She is in a relationship with Dutch player Daniëlle van de Donk.
Jodie Taylor (England)
Striker Jodie Taylor is currently on loan to Melbourne City.
In the 2017 Euros, she won the Golden Boot award for her five goals.
She is married to New Zealand player Emma Kete.
Karen Bardsley (England)
Born in California, Karen Bardsley became Manchester City’s goalkeeper in 2013.
She is currently working towards her Master’s Degree in Sports Directorship at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Lucy Staniforth (England)
Born into a footballing family, Lucy Staniforth plays as a midfielder for Birmingham City as well as the national team.
Former England coach Mark Sampson called her ‘one of the best young players in Europe’.
Rachel Daly (England)
While playing at St John’s University in New York, in just three years Rachel Daly set the school’s career records for both goals (50) and points (111).
She is dating fellow Houston Dash player Kristie Mewis.
Manuela Giugliano (Italy)
21-year-old Manuela Giugliano is a midfielder for A.C. Milan in Italy’s women’s Serie A
Giugliano made her senior debut in a 2–1 win against Ukraine in October 2014. This is Giugliano’s first time competing in an international tournament as a senior player.
Last February, she shared a sweet shot with girlfriend Ambra Capotosto on her Instagram.
‘I’ve chosen you. And I will continue to choose you, again and again,’ Giugliano said.
Anouk Dekker (Netherlands)
Anouk Dekker plays as midfielder/forward for HSC Montpellier.
The 32-year-old was on the Dutch team when they won the European title in 2017.
Dekker is reportedly dating American professional footballer Genessee Daughetee. The two have been teammates at HSC Montpellier for two seasons.
Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands)
Miedema plays for English WSL club Arsenal.
During this year’s Women’s World Cup, Miedema has become Netherlands’ all-time record international goalscorer at the age of 22. She also has a European title under her belt.
In an adorable video where she answers questions posed by children, Miedema revealed she is in a relationship with Scottish footballer Lisa Evans, with whom she shares a passion for Harry Potter.
The two play together for Arsenal and won the Women’s Super League in 2018-19.
Sherida Spitse (Netherlands)
Sherida Spitse is currently playing for Vålerenga Fotball in the Norwegian Toppserien.
She was part of the Dutch winning team of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 and played in all matches.
The midfielder is in a relationship with Jolien van der Tuin. The two welcomed baby Jens in 2017.
Merel Van Dongen (Netherlands)
Merel Van Dongen plays as a midfielder for Spanish club Real Betis.
She made her senior Netherlands women’s national football team debut in 2015 against Thailand.
Van Donger is currently dating Real Betis teammate Ana Romero, known as Willy.
Daniëlle van de Donk (Netherlands)
Daniëlle van de Donk is a midfielder for English club Arsenal.
Van De Donk was selected as part of the Dutch squad for the 2017 UEFA Women’s Championship to be held at home in the Netherlands where the team ended up winning the first place.
She is in a relationship with Arsenal teammate Beth Mead.
Hannah Wilkinson (New Zealand)
27-year-old Hannah Wilkinson plays as a striker for Swedish soccer club Vittsjö GIK.
After a serious knee injury in August 2015, she took some time off playing to recover, but came back fighting fit.
Hannah is an ambassador for LGBTI advocacy group, Out For The Win.
She is currently dating Swedish footballer Clara Markstedt, who also plays for Vittsjö GIK.
Emma Kete (New Zealand)
31-year-old Emma Kete most recently played as a centre forward for Canberra United.
She is also married to English soccer star Jodie Taylor.
In a sweet Instagram photo last month, Emma wrote: ‘Same dream, different team. I get to play at a World Cup with my wife.’
Katie Duncan (New Zealand)
Duncan (née Hoyle) plays as a midfielder for Onehunga Sports in Auckland, as well as represented New Zealand three times in the Olympics.
She also has a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of Auckland.
Katie married fellow New Zealand footballer Priscilla Duncan in 2015. Earlier this year, they also announced they were having a baby, due in July.
Isabell Herlovsen (Norway)
Midfielder and striker Isabell Herlovsen plays for Norwegian club Kolbotn after moving home from China where she played for Jiangsu Suning.
She’s the daughter of former footballer Kai Erik Herlovsen and became the youngest goal-scorer in the UEFA Women’s Euro in 2005.
She also came out publicly as a lesbian in 2011 after being out in her private life.
Shannon Lynn (Scotland)
Goalie Shannon Lynn has been capped 30 times for Scotland since making her international debut in 2010.
She won the Scottish Players’ Player of the Year award in 2011. She previously played with Scottish Club Hibernian, English team Chelsea Ladies, and American clubs Fort Wayne Fever and F.C. Indiana.
Lynn currently plays for Swedish team Vittsjö GIK, alongside her partner, Sandra Adolfsson (who just missed out on playing for this year’s Swedish national team). The couple also became engaged in 2015.
Nicola Docherty (Scotland)
Alongside her international career, defender Nicola Docherty plays for Glasgow City in the Scottish Women’s Premier League.
She was awarded the Scottish Building Society SWPL 1 Player of the Year award in November 2018.
Docherty also works as a dementia carer for the elderly in Falkirk; she commutes to work almost every day from her home, 26-miles away, in Edinburgh.
Docherty is in a relationship with her partner, Stephanie, who is a train driver for Scottish transport firm, ScotRail.
Janine van Wyk (South Africa)
Janine van Wyk, who is a defender, is the most capped South African football player of any gender.
Also the captain of the national team (which exited the Women’s World Cup on 17 June after losing a game to Germany 0-4), she came out as lesbian at the age of 15, according to a 2017 interview with Spectrum South.
María Pilar León (Spain)
León is a defender for FC Barcelona and the Spanish women’s national team.
In 2017, she was also transferred to Barcelona for €50,000, becoming the first paid transfer in Spanish women’s soccer.
León, retiring from soccer, plans to focus on tattoo designing.
Lisa Dahlkvist (Sweden)
Dahlkvist plays for Swedish club, Eskilstuna United.
She has over 130 caps playing for Sweden since her first international in 2008.
She played in the 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cups, the 2012 Olympic Games, and the 2009, 2013, and 2017 editions of the Women’s UEFA Championship.
Dahlkvist has one daughter with her spouse, Jessica, whom she married in July 2017.
Nilla Fischer (Sweden)
Fischer captains German club Vfl Wolfsburg.
In her almost 20-year footballing career she has accrued 175 caps.
She is also known for her LGBTI rights activism in her home country.
A short documentary was made about Fischer in 2018, where she speaks candidly about coming out and the differences between male and female soccer players.
Fischer married her partner, Maria Michaela, in December 2013.
Magdalena Eriksson (Sweden)
Magdalena Eriksson is a defender for the English Women’s Super League club, Chelsea.
She has almost 50 caps playing for the Swedish national team.
Eriksson was part of the international squad which won the silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
She is in a relationship with Danish international footballer, Pernille Harder.
Caroline Seger (Sweden)
Midfielder Caroline Seger is the captain of the Sweden national team, and has garnered close to 200 caps for her home nation since 2005.
Seger is club captain of the Swedish club, FC Rosengård. Prior to this, she played at various clubs in Sweden, France and the US.
She received the Diamantbollen (The Diamond Ball) in 2011, awarded annually by the Swedish Football Association to the best female player of the year.
Seger is in a relationship with former Sweden international player, Malin Levenstad, who is the current head coach for FC Rosengård.
Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden)
Hedvig Lindahl is a goalkeeper for the English club, Chelsea Ladies, and has gained over 150 caps for the Swedish national team since 2002.
She became Sweden’s most capped goalie after her 113th international match in 2015.
Prior to her time in Chelsea, she has played for multiple clubs in Sweden.
She was also part of the squad which won silver in the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio, and in the same year as one of the five nominees for the Women’s PFA Players’ of the Year. Lindahl was awarded the Diamantbollen in 2015.
Lindahl married her partner, Sabine Willms, in 2011. The couple have two children, born in 2014 and 2017.
Pia Sundhage (Sweden)
Pia Sundhage has been the head coach of Sweden’s national team since 2012.
Prior to this, she was head coach for the US national team from 2008-2012, and was awarded the FIFA World Coach of the Year in 2012.
Before taking up coaching, Sundhage’s footballing career lasted for almost 20 years from 1977 to 1996. As an international player, she accrued 146 caps and scored 71 goals for Sweden.
Sundhage came out as gay in a TV interview in 2010. In the same interview she also said she had not experienced any homophobia during her time coaching in America.
Tierna Davidson (United States)
Davidson, a defender, is the youngest player on the US’ roster for the World Cup.
In 2018, she was named US Soccer’s Young Female Player of the Year.
She plays for the club the Chicago Red Stars and was drafted by them in 2019 after only three years at Stanford when the National Women’s Soccer League relaxed their rules about drafting college players.
Adrianna Franch (United States)
Franch is a goalkeeper who plays for the Portland Thorns and the national team.
She played soccer at Oklahoma State University, where she became one of the most decorated players in the Big 12 Conference and OSU history.
Her hero is former national team goalkeeper Brianna Scurry and she replaced her own name on her jersey in the 2019 SheBelieves Cup with Scurry’s to honor her.
She’s engaged to her partner Emily Boscacci.
Ashlyn Harris (United States)
Harris has been playing soccer as a goalkeeper for nearly two decades, beginning her career in 2001 in high school.
She went on to win numerous championships and awards in both high school and college at the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
As a member of the national team, she is both an Olympic gold medalist and a World Cup champion.
On the club side, she plays for the Orlando Pride.
She’s currently engaged to fellow national team player Ali Krieger and they plan to marry after this year’s tournament.
Megan Rapinoe (United States)
Rapinoe is a midfielder/winger and one of the most well-known out soccer players in the world.
She captains the Seattle Reign and co-captions the national team alongside Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd.
In the 2012 London Summer Olympics, she became the first player, male or female, to score a goal olimpico (a goal directly from a corner kick) in the Olympic Games.
She is an advocate for numerous LGBTI organizations and outspoken about her politics.
She came out publicly in 2012 and is currently dating WNBA player Sue Bird.
In 2018, they became the first same-sex couple on the cover of ESPN’s Body issue and this year, Rapinoe became the first openly gay cover model for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit edition.
Ali Krieger (United States)
Krieger is a defender who plays for the Orlando Pride and the national team.
She has played in two World Cups and in 2015, was part of the US’ defense that kept opposing teams scoreless for a record 540 minutes.
At the 2011 World Cup, she played every minute of the team’s six matches.
She was not named to the 2012 Olympic team after suffering a knee surgery, but recovered and became the oldest first-time US Olympian for women’s soccer in 2016.
She’s currently engaged to fellow national team player Ashlyn Harris and they plan to marry after this year’s tournament.
Jill Ellis (United States)
Ellis is the current coach of the US Women’s National Team.
She was appointed to the position in 2014 and led the team to a World Cup championship in 2015.
She also serves as the development director for the US Soccer Federation, focusing on national youth teams. Ellis played as a forward for William & Mary, before moving on to coaching and managing following college.
She married her wife Betsy Stephenson in 2013 and they have an adopted daughter, Lily.