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Brittney Griner acknowledges she’s a lesbian, says ‘just be who you are’

Apr 18, 2013, 12:44 PM EDT

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Brittney Griner was selected with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft on Tuesday night, and in a series of interviews she conducted on Wednesday, Griner acknowledged that she is a lesbian.

Griner said that she’s been out, but Wednesday was the first time that she has talked about it so candidly and publicly.

“It’s just being who you are,” Griner told SI.com. “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.”

Griner also told SI.com that the fact that she’s a famous athlete had no affect on her decision to remain out.

“It really wasn’t too difficult,” Griner said of the decision. “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, as well as Skylar Diggins and Elena Della Donne, also discussed the topic of bullying growing up. It’s difficult for female athletes to break the mold of what our society expects a girl to be. Kids are mean, both in high school and in the student sections during road games, and that’s to say nothing of the anonymity of the internet. Griner, in particular, has been on the receiving end of a never-ending string of personal and verbal assaults. “Brittney Griner has had to endure more than any player that I’ve ever had to coach,” her coach, Kim Mulkey, told Outsports.com.

Young, female athletes going through the same things that Griner has gone, and is still going, through couldn’t ask for a better role model, but it paints a stark contrast to the way that homosexuality is handled in male sports.

One of the biggest stories this spring has been the idea that a gay NFL player could potentially come out. That news would spend weeks, if not months, in the headlines and would be a discussion topic on Sportscenter and First Take throughout the offseason and well into the NFL season. It would be a massive deal.

Compare that to Griner, who casually mentions in a few interviews that she’s gay.

“I really couldn’t give an answer on why [men and women’s sports are] so different,” Griner said.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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