Soccer player Megan Rapinoe and basketball player Sue Bird are ready to make history as the first same-sex couple to appear on the cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s annual Body Issue.
The professional athletes posed nude together for the tenth anniversary issue, and talked about the significance of highlighting their relationship on such a large platform.
“I think it’s important to do these things first. It’s important for people to come out. Visibility is important,” Rapinoe, 32, a forward for the U.S. National Women’s Soccer team and the Seattle Reign FC, told the magazine. “I feel like a lot of negative ideas that hopefully I can break down just by being myself.”
Rapinoe said that their starring role in the magazine feels necessary considering the state of politics in the U.S.
“It’s pretty amazing to think about , especially in the times we’re in,” she said. “Just think of how far we’ve come, but also the current climate. Not only are we female athletes, but we’re dating as well. It’s kind of badass.”
“Yeah, I think it’ll probably be even more bad-ass later,” Bird, a point guard for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, 37, agreed. “A year, five years, 10 years, 20 years, to look back and be like, ‘Oh, they were the first openly gay couple to be in the issue.’ ”
The couple join 14 other athletes who also stripped down for the annual issue, including figure skater Adam Rippon. The bronze-medalist Olympian, who is also openly gay, similarly talked about how this is a major moment for queer people.
“I couldn’t have done this while I was in the closet,” Rippon said. “I think that, with my experience of coming out, I felt so liberated in so many ways.”
ESPN The Magazine‘s Body Issue hits newsstands June 29.