Brittney Griner Publicly Comes Out as Gay in Interview with Sports Illustrated

Along with fellow draftees Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins, Brittney Griner sat down for an interview with writer Maggie Gray. In the interview, Gray discussed with the future WNBA stars the difficult climate created for these athletes because of the accessibility media have to comment on every aspect of their lives. The interview also discusses the hardships that each player went through growing up, because of their perceived differences from the rest of their peers. Whether those differences surrounded their physical appearance, their athletic ability, or even their sexuality.

At this point Gray asked the panel to comment on the recent media attention placed upon the possibility of a professional male athlete coming out as LGBT. Specifically, Gray asked Griner to explain the disconnect between women's and men's professional sports on the issue of LGBT athletes, especially since the WNBA already has several publicly out athletes.

"I really couldn't give an answer on why that's so different", said Griner. "Being one that's out, it's just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are. Don't worry about what other people are going to say, because they're always going to say something, but, if you're just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don't hide who you really are."

Although Griner has not specifically kept her sexual identification a secret in the past, this appears to be the first time that she has publicly acknowledged the fact that she identifies as gay. When asked about how difficult it was to make the decision to come out as a famous athlete, as the woman who was selected number 1 overall in the WNBA draft.

"It really wasn't too difficult, I wouldn't say I was hiding or anything like that. I've always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn't hard at all. If I can show that I'm out and I'm fine and everything's OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way."

Griner further discussed the experiences she has had in facing outside criticism for her physical appearance and her perceived sexual identification. "I overcame it and got over it" said the future WNBA star. She also made sure to convey how important the issue is to her. This is "definitely something that I am very passionate about", said Griner. "I want to work with kids and bring recognition to the problem, especially with the LGBT community."

Griner was recently picked No. 1 overall in the WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury. During her collegiate career at Baylor University Griner was chosen as the 2012 AP Div. I player of the year and the 2012 Final Four Most Outstanding Player—the same year that the Lady Bears won the National Championship.

Griner's decision to publicly come out lands her among the most accomplished and celebrated athletes to ever openly identify as LGBT. She is also one of the best composed; in the interview with Sports Illustrated fellow future WNBA star Skylar Diggins said of Griner, "It's great to see how she handles herself in this situation. People are cruel. She handles every situation with such class and it's inspiring and she's taught me some things about when people say bad things. She's a poster child for how to handle criticism." It is great to see such a popular athlete who is able to keep composure while advocating for LGBT inclusion and equality in sports.

Check out Brittney Griner's interview with Maggie Gray below: