Brittney Griner To Be First Openly Gay Athlete To Sign With Nike–And She’ll Be Modeling Men’s Apparel

June 5, 2013  |  

AP Images/Bill Shettle / Cal Sport Media. (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

Brittney Griner, the former First Team All-American center for Baylor and now the 1st overall draft pick for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, is having a great year. And it’s definitely getting better as it has been confirmed that she has signed a deal with Nike, making her the first openly gay athlete to sign with the company. What also makes her new business venture all the more unique is that her contract will actually allow her to wear and model men’s apparel for the sports brand. It all makes sense considering it has been a long time since anybody, including Griner herself, has seen the star athlete in women’s apparel. As the Houston Chronicle put it: “The contract reflects Griner’s personal style and her discomfort with traditional women’s fashion.”

In the ESPN cover story on Griner’s life, the partnership was confirmed by Nike spokesman Brian Strong, and the writer, Kate Fagan discussed androgyny and the need for the Nikes, Reeboks, Adidas and other big sports apparel companies to step up and start appealing to the “gender fluid” crowd:

“No sports apparel company has taken it a step further and expressly targeted the gender-fluid crowd — and whether Nike is willing to ride the edge with Griner remains to be seen. ‘We can’t get into specifics,” says Nike spokesman Brian Strong, “but it’s safe to say we jumped at the opportunity to work with her because she breaks the mold.’”

In that same cover story, Griner discussed her affinity for men’s clothes:

“When Griner goes shopping, she often looks for clothes in the men’s section. People will say, “Hey, you’re in the wrong place.” But as she explains, “It’s what I feel comfortable in. It’s my dress identity.” She tells a story from when she was younger: “I remember my mom doing my laundry, and my dad being like, ‘Whose boxers are these?’ And I said, ‘They’re mine’ [raises hand slowly]. I’ve always been totally out there — just on a limb.”

Despite what apparel she puts on for the brand, it’s definitely a great move for her and she’ll be representing for people like her who need to see a confident lesbian woman comfortable with herself and ready to do things her way at all times: “I am 100-percent happy. When I was at Baylor, I wasn’t fully happy because I couldn’t be all the way out. It feels so good saying it: I am a strong, black lesbian woman. Every single time I say it, I feel so much better.” Kudos to you, boo.

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  • Bebe


  • Ashe

    Exactly. Gender is just a concept, much like race. Constructed as boxes to shove people in, regardless of reality.

    Women look great in ‘mens clothing’ and vice versa.

  • Diveta Cranford

    I beg to differ….if you want to dress like a man then like I said before GO HARD & GET A SEX CHANGE. I don’t see men modeling womens clothing. Just because I don’t agree doesn’t make me close minded or conservative its just my opinion. You ppl get waaaaaay bent out of shape when ppl don’t agree with you….you try to bully ppl into agreeing with you and it may work with some ppl but not with me.

    • kaizen

      weird. I’ve seen several ads floating around the internet of men modeling women’s clothing. search more maybe?

    • Ashe

      Gravity isn’t real. IT’S JUST MY OPINION.

      Carrots are people. IT’S JUST MY OPINION.

      It’s legal to marry VitaminWater in seven states. IT’S JUST MY OPINION.

      I like this opinion shield. Lets me completely avoid criticism, scrutiny or responsibility for what I say.

      • Diveta Cranford

        I’m not hiding behing ANY shield nor am I avoiding any criticism or responsibility…your just pissed because I don’t agree with you. I don’t have to defend anything…I said what I said and I mean it…lmmfao! Don’t you have a job? Find something to do other than getting into cyber arguments with people you don’t know. Okay I’ve gotta go now because I have a job & a life and please stop blowing up my disqus account with your nonsensical ramblings okay? I’ve been nice so far but you continue to bother me and I’m going to go hard on you.

  • Angela


  • Tessa

    Wow this is so great for her! A big step, good for Nike.

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  • Almond E Brown

    Okay Britney! I see you boo. Live!Your!Life!

  • Diveta Cranford

    If she wants to be a man then go HARD….get a sex change. Why model mens clothing?????? She has breasts. The entire world has gone crazy and this ish is ridiculous.

    • Ashe

      Pretty sure she’s fine doing whatever she wants, but thanks for your boring conservative opinion.

      • Diveta Cranford

        Your welcome!!! And thank you for your boring response 😉

  • Snatchface

    Aw. The same thing happened to me with the laundry. My mom insisted on doing a load of my laundry, and insisted on folding it… and then came, “Are these boxers yours or your Dad’s??” with a weird face. So embarrassing.

  • realtalkreno

    Did any one actually read this article in it’s entirety? Done of the comments on here are just ridiculous. She wouldn’t be modeling male apparel to appeal to potential male buyers. She is androgynous. So are many other female athletes. Plenty of lesbians and androgynous women would be interested in buying products that were designed with women in mind including myself. This apparel well be designed for the gender fluid market and trust me, one does exist. Now women who wasn’t to dress like women can and the ones who like to dress in mens apparel but desire clothing that still accentuates the female frame have something for them to. Nike is showing their willingness to identify a neglected market. By acknowledging the lgbt gender fluid community and accommodating those like myself who need the medium between men’s and women’s clothing they have increased their profits. Gays and lesbians spend money too, believe it.

    • FromUR2UB

      I guess the confusion comes from the words “men’s apparel”, which indicates that it isn’t designed to fit a woman’s frame because it’s… men’s clothing. There has long been tailored women’s clothing INSPIRED by menswear. The thing about it though, is that it takes a very feminine woman to pull it off so that it looks stylish. But, if the point is to look masculine, then I guess clothing designed for a man’s body would do that. She is not very feminine looking to me, and though I’ve never seen live video of her, I’m guessing she moves and carries herself like a guy, too. Dresses and other women’s clothing probably wouldn’t be becoming on her anyway. Some women are just so butch, that trying to frill them up just looks pretentious.

    • AO

      As a woman with an athletic physique, my shoulders and arms do not fit in standard womens’ shirts and my decent shape disappears in the boxy mens’ styles. Trunk choices come in yoga pants and hot pants unless you’re getting golf shorts, and then you’re finding lots of pastel green, purple, or blue, or multitudes of pink colors. Perhaps Nike is finally realizing that there are a whole lot of athletic people out there who don’t fit into the common binary marketing strategies – people who have worked hard to look nice and trim and want to show it off in a style that suits their shape and personality.

  • I_am_a_Gladiator/Scandalista

    That’s cool and whatever floats her boat but like a commenter below said, she still has boobs and a womanly figure. Will this make men want to buy the men apparel?

  • She is fine as frog hair!!! Let the lady do her. The rest of you need to chill!!

  • FromUR2UB

    Soooo…who are they marketing to? I don’t know of many men who will think, ‘I like the way that looks on her. Where can I buy that?’ Women aren’t trying to dress like a dude unless they like girls. Just seem like a really narrow demographic.

    • kaizen

      I’m a woman who dresses like a dude and I’m attracted to dudes. There are many of us.

      • FromUR2UB

        Then I might wonder about the guys, because just as women might be turned off by men who have a feminine flair to their dress, men who like women, are less likely to be attracted to women who dress like men. Maybe there’s a little more to that. Just sayin’.

        • kaizen

          We must have been socialized around completely different people then, because the people I know aren’t like that at all.

          • FromUR2UB

            That’s probably true, and you’re probably much younger than I am. Most men and women of my age group don’t care for ambiguity. That’s hard to say for the younger people.

    • Ashe

      Of course people outside the status quo seem like a narrow demographic.

      They’re always ignored.

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  • Child_Puhleez

    Whatever. -_-

  • Staci

    awesome! congrats to her. folks are going to hate, but she’s laughing all the way to the bank. her talent is incredible!

  • Candacey Doris

    Congrats to her! Endorsements don’t come easy so she’s done well for herself. Glad she gets to model what she wants too, men’s clothes fit her so much better.

  • ThaVoiceoftheVoiceless

    People already think she is a man in drag anyways, so modeling men’s clothing will be no different. Although, it will be interesting to see how Nike’s male customers react to a female modeling their clothing.

    • Kylie

      I’m interested in how men react to women who want to be and dress like them in general. It’s always been, to me, one thing to be gay and a completely different thing to want/feel/act/dress like the opposite sex. Since people like to compare blacks and gays, if I was walking around very overtly trying to look like white by bleaching my skin with blonde hair & colored contacts y’all would say I have issues.
      P.S. she actually has a pretty, feminine face especially in that pic

      • MsRae

        My fiance (a woman) is very femine and a ball player (playing ball since age 11). We’ve attended school together since elementary school and her athletic wear and everyday wear has always been more masculine. You would never catch her in a pair of yoga pants or tight jeans. She loves basketball shorts and cargo shorts and t-shirts. That’s what makes her most comfortable. Her shirts tend to be form-fitted. When I asked her why she didn’t wear dresses, skirts, etc she kindly explained to me that it had never been her thing. She just says she likes to breath and honestly when I have to throw on her bball shorts (usually Nike) to open the front door I definitely feel more comfortable than when I’m wearing my yoga-style compression shorts (lol)! And she told me she prefers cargo shorts because she doesn’t like tight pants and she doesn’t like purses so she likes all the pockets. Which makes perfecr since to me because I dont know what the heck to do with things when I try to avoid wearing a purse besides put my MAC, keys, ID and Debit card in one of her pockets. Everyone compliments her on how gorgeous she is ALL THE TIME and she definitely has the bball body and hour glass figure but she wears what makes her comfortable and she always has. Most men that see her tell her how gorgeous she is even to be someone that wears men’s clothing and she just says thank you. I don’t think she WANTS to dress or act like a man IN ANY WAY. That’s a stereotype. She not only looks feminine, but IS feminine even though she prefers men’s clothing. Some men are jealous (me too at times -even though we’re both very nice looking women), some are simply attracted to her, It’s definitely more a thing of comfort than people may believe.

        References: Personal experience dating women for over 7 years.

        • MsRae


      • Ashe

        I bet you’ve never heard of the phrase ‘social construct’ in your entire life.

        It’s a shame, because it sums up your entire paragraph.

      • Diggy

        You took the words right out if my mouth. I think she is beautiful.

  • Nia

    Isn’t she like 7ft tall? Of course she wears men’s clothing! And as far as her being openly gay, duhhhhh!