Chances are, if you’ve kept up with sports, you’ve heard about Brittney Griner. The 6 foot 8 basketball player made a name for herself as the star player on Baylor’s Women’s Basketball team and attracted national attention when Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban invited her to play for his team.
Though she’s receiving tons of accolades now, Brittney sat down with ESPN to explain that there were times when she wasn’t always so popular. In fact, while some have accepted her, there are still many more who are still taunting her, trying to figure out her gender and bashing her open expression of her sexuality.
Brittney explained that from as early as she could remember, she felt different than the other girls her age. While other students were playing house, squealing about being “wives,” Griner knew early that she didn’t want to be a wife she wanted to be a husband.
Griner explains how she’d feel when her parents put her in a dress:
“When I’m in a dress, it’s like, ‘What am I doing in this?’ I feel trapped, like I’m in shackles and handcuffs and a straitjacket. So I was just like, F— it, I’m going to wear what I want. I caught hell for it, but it felt so good being myself.”
Brittney’s struggles with her sexuality and identity didn’t stop internally. People in her school made accepting who she was exceptionally difficult. Other students would taunt her:
“Show us your private part. We know you have one.”
“Every incident was a variation on a theme. A girl would come up and grope at her flat chest, calling to the other kids: “See? Nothing!”
But when Griner attempted to come out to her father, the reception wasn’t too friendly.
“I ain’t raising no gay girl.” The former Marine set the house rules, and he forbade Brittney from inviting friends — male or female — over to hang out. Brittney and Ray clashed often, both too stubborn for their own good. By the time she was a senior, the self-described daddy’s girl was done with Ray’s idea of normal, so she moved out and stayed with the Nimitz junior varsity basketball coach.”
There were times when Brittney cried all by herself at night, considering taking her own life.
Eventually though, Brittney came to love who she is and her father came to understand that Brittney just wanted to be accepted for who she was. Her successful basketball career helped her father to see who she really was.
Check out the rest of Brittney’s interview and her internal struggles over at ESPN.com.