Lesbian Soccer Players Going All Out: How Ali Kriege and Ashlyn Harris’ Marriage Exposure in Social Media is Taking Sexuality in Sports to Another Level

Women’s participation and reception in soccer and other sports have been very controversial, to say the least. Adding the lesbian or gay identity to the athletic identity is another challenge many women athletes are facing. Currently, social media is known to be one the most influential channels of communication. That’s why athletes are trying to benefit as much as possible from using them, to connect with fans, increase their influence, share content and tell other exactly what they want to say.

Even though there is always space for homophobic reactions and comments in such outspoken platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, the news portraying marriage photos of the two soccer players Ali Kriege and Ashlyn Harris have been cheered by their fans, family and friends. During an interview, Harris told people magazine “So I’m so excited to have this type of platform, to have this type of visibility, to be seen as a gay couple and it be accepted and it be important”. The statement made by Harris describes the acceptance they have received from the public, which has brought them closer to their fans and, who knows, maybe other people who are not necessarily fans but who can relate to this couple.

United States of America v Netherlands : Final - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France
From left, Ashlyn Harris, Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger celebrate winning the World Cup  (Source: Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

While in 2015, 18 participants of the Women’s World Cup were publicity out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or otherwise, the number has increased to 40 in 2019. This shift in numbers indicates that peer support and media response has been of great help for other athletes to come out and be their true self, inside and outside the field.  This has applied to coaches as well with U.S team coach Jillian Ellis being openly gay, and Katie Sowers who will be the first openly gay coach in Super Bowl history. Therefore, as mentioned by Pfister, “Understanding the mass impact media coverage has is a key area where equity would contribute to legitimizing women’s achievements, self-acceptance, as well as public acceptance” (Pfister, 2015).

Despite the increasing number of gay female players and coaches, coming out is not as easy as what is seen in social media. There are still many athletes who are afraid of the impact it can have in their careers such as loosing sponsors, or safety risk coming out implies. However, it’s undeniable the progress we are making as a society, which is starting to pay attention to the talent and passion athletes display, rather that how they look or who they love.


Featured image: Krieger and Harris kissing at their wedding, surrounded by friends and family. (source: Ali Krieger’s instagram account, @alikrieger)

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