Gay basketball, WNBA, Women's Basketball

In 2022, Nearly 30% of All WNBA Players Identify As Gay, Lesbian, Trans or Queer

With the 2022 WNBA season nearing the all-star break, team rosters are pretty much set.

With that in mind, we wanted to look into answering a somewhat controversial question that many have regarding the WNBA — that question being what percentage of the players identify as gay or lesbian?

Though that question is often asked (for both good and bad reasons) it hasn’t been answered with any authority. Without any reliable data has led to a lot of misinformation, wild speculation, assumptions off unreliable data thus perpetuating damaging stereotypes that keeps the league down.

Most of the ignorant comments from online commenters that are clearly proud in verbalizing their lack respect for women athletes. Especially for those women athletes that don’t look, dress or present as they expect them to. And because they’re not able to sexualize them and are threatened by strong, athletic, even masculine women, they react angrily out of discomfort and fear and that manifests in deprecating homophobic, racist and misogynistic jokes about WNBA players.

There’s this prevailing perception that the WNBA is all lesbians and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it paints the league into a corner. Our goal is to provide data the best we can that provides some foundation for those that are ready to have real conversations about why these stereotypes exist, breaking stereotypes and gender expectations as well as discussing the ingrained prejudices we have against women, Black women, and all women that identify as LGBTQ in professional sports.

What Percentage of WNBA Players Are Gay?

As far as percentages go. We’ve done the math and in the 2022 WNBA season, 28.7% of the WNBA identifies as LGBTQ. In a 2019 study looking at athletic performance based on sexual orientation, they identified that approximately 38% were lesbian.

Percentage of Lesbian WNBA Players By Year
Year Number of Players Approx % Source
2019 58 38% ResearchGate
2022 41 29% Interbasket

Here’s how we got to that percentage in 2022 (similar to how the 2019 study got to their number).

Having done some exhaustive research on WNBA players that are public with their sexuality, we compiled a list of dozens of retired and active WNBA players that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or queer. We only considered active players on rosters during the 2022 WNBA season. Since the WNBA has twelve franchises and allows for twelve players on their roster (putting a real squeeze on talent this season). Until the league expands that’s twelve teams multiplied by twelve players equals only 144 roster spots available.

With 144 finite spots, the other side of the equation is how many of those 144 players publicly self-identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community? Based off interviews, articles, the player’s public Instagram accounts and other online information, we found the following gay and lesbian WNBA players that are active as of the 2022 season.

Active LGBTQ WNBA Players (2022)
First Name Last Name Team
Julie Allemand Chicago Sky
Sue Bird Seattle Storm
‎Dewanna Bonner Connecticut Sun
Jordin Canada Los Angeles Sparks
Emma Cannon Indiana Fever
Natasha Cloud Washington Mystics
Elissa Cunane Minnesota Lynx
Crystal Dangerfield New York Liberty
Elena Delle Donne Washington Mystics
Stefanie Dolson New York Liberty
AD Durr Atlanta Dream
Chelsea Gray Las Vegas Aces
Brittney Griner Phoenix Mercury
Tiffany Hayes Atlanta Dream
Destanni Henderson Indiana Fever
Natisha Hiedeman Connecticut Sun
Natasha Howard New York Liberty
Briann January Seattle Storm
Jonquel Jones Connecticut Sun
Jewel Loyd Seattle Storm
Anneli Maley Chicago Sky
Angel McCoughtry Minnesota Lynx
Candace Parker Chicago Sky
Epiphanny Prince Seattle Storm
Aerial Powers Minnesota Lynx
Allie Quigley Chicago Sky
Danielle Robinson Indiana Fever
Destiny Slocum Atlanta Dream
NaLyssa Smith Indiana Fever
Breanna Stewart Seattle Storm
Brittney Sykes Los Angeles Sparks
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury
Alyssa Thomas Connecticut Sun
Jasmine Thomas Connecticut Sun
Courtney Vandersloot Chicago Sky
Victoria Vivians Indiana Fever
Erica Wheeler Atlanta Dream
Sami Whitcomb New York Liberty
Christyn Williams Washington Mystics
Courtney Williams Connecticut Sun
Riquna Williams Las Vegas Aces
Amanda Zahui B. Los Angeles Sparks

The list above names off 41 active WNBA players that consider themselves gay, lesbian, or queer. Those forty-one out players equal 28.7% of all active WNBA players. With nearly 29% of the league, that’s way more than a quarter of the WNBA. The 2019 study we mentioned above  “coded” 58 players as lesbian and 44 as straight.

It’s worth saying again that in both cases, the numbers represent players that are publicly out meaning that the percentage of gay and lesbian WNBA players is likely higher because any attempt at exacting how many gay and lesbian players there in the WNBA is directly impacted by the negative affects that coming out at work can have on that person personally and professionally.

For many of the players coming out as gay, lesbian, queer, trans or non-binary not only open yourself up to being discriminated against off the court, but may have a direct impact on how many minutes you play, whether you make the Olympic team, potential endorsements, post-playing career opportunities, and a host of other issues.

Another way to ask the question is what percentage of WNBA players are “straight”? Well we don’t know the exact number but there are plenty of heterosexual women playing in the WNBA including all-stars A’Ja Wilson, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Kelsey Plum, Derica Hamby and Sabrina Ionescu. Maya Moore and Napheesa Collier just gave birth with their husbands. Other players on this list is Liz Cambage, Natalie Achonwa, Tianna Hawkins, Rachel Banham, Bria Hartley, Te’a Cooper, DiJonai Carrington, Aari McDonald and many others.

We mention this only because it highlights that most don’t ask which players are “straight” because that’s the norm. That’s what we assume until something different is noticed. That difference isn’t an issue in itself. It only becomes a problem when that difference is used to discriminate.

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