This month, we sat down with Megan to ask what Pride means to her. As always, she delivered sage advice, inspiring calls to action, and her signature flair for tongue-in-cheek humor. At the bottom of the page, we list five actionable next steps you can take based on Megan’s advice to further support our LGBTQ community year round. GO GAYS.
What does Pride mean to you?
Megan: My view on pride is always evolving. Right now I think it’s a time to celebrate the community and hard work that’s been put in from previous generations. Pride has become so corporatized and commercialized, when really the support needs to happen year round. Pride should be seen as a celebration month in a year where we’re continuing to do the work, including showing up for trans people. Pride was borne out of a revolt and violence against the LGBTQ community, and we need to keep in mind that that stuff is still happening. Pride was a riot for our rights, and to be seen as whole. We need to focus on that and keep fighting year round, while taking time to celebrate the progress made by our community.
Who is your favorite Pride hero this year or beyond that inspires you to keep going?
Megan: Going back to Stonewall, I have to say Marcia P. Johnson. As a black and trans woman, Johnson is the perfect heroic archetype (of intersectionality). Johnson’s fight was, by nature of themselves, a fight for everyone else too. It was not about just celebratory throwing beads, but fighting for safety, healthcare, and the right to live as who they are was at the forefront. The bravery it took for Marcia to be who she was and live the life that she did is incredibly heroic, inspiring, and powerful for us all to remember.
Pride is a revolution to reimagine the world where equality is happening for all & the full spectrum of humanity is protected and celebrated.
What specifically did you mean in your “Go Gays” comment during the 2019 WWC?
Megan:I tried to normalize (being LGBTQ) while pointing out and informing people that it is still not normalized in our society. It was a tongue-in-cheek way to say that gays have always been everywhere, you can’t do anything (like winning a World Championship) without gay people. My goal was to continue to normalize that language and the fact that gay people just live in the world without it being a special or extra thing. I also just try to be myself everywhere, and know that is radical in and of itself.
What is the most important thing for companies and brands to think about as they kick-off their Pride campaigns and messaging?
Megan: The most important thing for companies to do is to ask themselves: what are they doing, outside of ordering rainbow merch? A lot of companies make their logo rainbow colored and order pride shirts and call it good. We saw a lot of calling out of these sorts of companies in 2020 with Black Lives Matter.
It’s also important for companies to remember that pride is a year round thing. We don’t get to ever not be gay. Yes, once a year it gets to have a bit more of a celebratory theme, but the rest of the year we still need to be fighting for LGBTQ healthcare, spousal rights, youth safety, etc. Companies need to go beyond just trying to tick a box not to look bad, and go further towards things like: considering diversity training, reflecting on how diverse their staff is, or donating to political campaigns.
Any calls to action for the Mendi community, especially who don’t consider themselves activists, on how they can best support Pride this year?
Megan: There are dozens of anti-trans bills in all state legislatures across the country. Call your representatives, call your senators, and back candidates who support the full rights of all human beings. Ensure that the companies you interact with and politicians you endorse are not in support of those bans. You can also choose which companies you want to work with and buy from. Finally, you should educate yourself so that you can help debunk the myths out there about trans youth.
My ask is to educate yourself. You can’t put that emotional labor on gay athletes.
What are you most proud of as a female, gay athlete who’s become a global icon?
Megan: I’m really proud that I’ve used my platform to make a difference. I know how impactful it’s been to see someone who plays my sport and has become popular off the field (to be out). Coming out at 26, there was no one else on the USWNT out. I’m still very proud of that and to this day, in my interactions with the fans I get many thank you’s for my coming out. The importance of coming out is for the visibility it creates. You can’t imagine what isn’t there, and sometimes people need the permission structure (that comes with) seeing that Megan’s out, or Sue’s out. It’s important to see athletes continue to speak out on this to further normalize being LGBTQ.
What do you hope other athletes will do to support Pride and the LGBTQ community?
Megan: For gay athletes who are still closted, my hope is that they continue to seek out the community and that they get to a place where they are getting what they need to feel comfortable coming out.
For allies, educate yourself. You can’t put that emotional labor on the gay athletes. Make it known that you support gay athletes. Take the initiative, whether it’s through a Pride night, on social media, through the language you choose to use. I encourage all franchises and teams to be intentional about the environment they create and that it is safe. If there is an athlete who is struggling to come out, it should not be because they don't feel safe in their environment.
5 ACTIONABLE STEPS
- Call your local representatives and demand support for trans youth.
- Back candidates who support the full rights of all human beings
- Choose which companies you work with and buy from carefully by making sure their values reflect a commitment to equality
- Educate yourself so that you can further help debunk the stereotypes out there about trans youth and don’t rely on LGBTQ folks to do that emotional labor and educating for you
- As an ally, proactively work to create safe spaces for LGBTQ members to feel safe and comfortable being themselves
**interview was condensed for clarity**