Playing It Out: Female intercollegiate athletes' experiences in revealing their sexual identities

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2012

Publication Title

Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education


Grounded in feminist standpoint theory, this study examined the unique perspectives of "out" lesbian or bisexual college female athletes (n = 14) through a qualitative, semi-structured format. Participants' stories provided an insightful look into a culture rooted in heternormativity and hegemonic masculinity. Several dominant themes emerged upon data analysis. Specifically, participants noted the importance of trailblazers, or out athletes who had come before them, and the unanticipated, but total, acceptance from their teammates. Participants also spoke of their resistance to, and struggle with, stereotypes and labels. They gave in-depth details about the silent culture of athletic departments and the difference having one ally within the department made to their identity disclosure experience. However, they noted a lack of organizational structures or policies to ensure consistent experiences for all non-heterosexual student-athletes. Results are discussed within the context of current gender and sexuality sport literature.


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