This week, Brittney Griner made her WNBA debut. Even though her Phoenix Mercury team lost, she managed to show off her impressive dunking skills. Griner already has as many career dunks (2) as any other player in WNBA history.

Griner, the former Baylor star, has already made a name for herself and has a lot of time to prove herself as a WNBA star.  This month, Griner is the featured  story for ESPN The Magazine. She  talks about her sexuality, being teased throughout her childhood, and her current hate tweets.

Griner said she used to keep her social networks private, but now could really careless.  If someone wants to insult her, so be it. “My followers are the best,” she says. “Usually they’re on somebody right away, and I’m like, ‘No, no, guys, stop — that’s exactly what the troll wants you to do.’”

As for coming out fully earlier this year, ”I am 100-percent happy,” she told the magazine’s Kate Fagan. “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.”

Below is an excerpt from her article in ESPN The Magazine.

She picks up her phone, scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, as she does routinely, to see what people are saying about her.

The hits come quickly: “You’re disgusting.” [Scroll.] “Ur a man.” [Scroll.] “What are you? #man? #ape?”

“Here’s one,” she says, rolling her eyes. “‘You have a penis.’” Satisfied that her troll chorus still cares, Griner puts away the phone. “Reading what people say makes me want to be me even more.”

The cyber-bullying is just an extension of the face-to-face taunts she dealt with growing up in Houston, the youngest of four kids raised by Ray and Sandra Griner. At home, Brittney was into everything: riding her go-kart; watching military shows with her dad, a Vietnam vet; sewing with her mom; chasing squirrels in the woods surrounding her home. But at school, nothing felt right. By sixth grade, she was gangly and long and feisty, and although she was too big to be backed into a corner or stuffed into a locker, her classmates found other ways to torment her. 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!” Then the instigator would turn to Brittney and say those familiar words: “What are you?” Humiliation would morph into anger, and Griner would push the girl.

When her teachers and parents asked what had happened, she mumbled answers that meant nothing. How could she verbalize what they were calling her? A lesbian, a dude, a freak, a thing? It was easier to accept the blame and the reputation for fighting that came with it. She was trying desperately to fit in, dressing like the other girls, dating boys, but she was a collage of mismatched pieces, built from images she thought others wanted to see.Her parents, brother and two sisters had no idea of her pain. Her father worked in the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and over the years he had brought home stuffed animals he won while patrolling carnivals; Brittney’s room was filled with fluffy bunnies and bears that absorbed her tears. What is wrong with me? Why am I here? Her mind wandered to dark places where she didn’t exist at all. She would hold the thought just long enough to consider the consequences: What point is suicide if I hurt my family, too?

She decided instead to find her place in the world. One day in middle school, she sat at the family computer, her fingers hovering over the keyboard as she glanced around to make sure she was alone. Then she typed the words “gay and lesbian” and watched as thousands of links flooded the screen. She clicked through the pages. “This is me,” she realized. “This is who I am.”

Read the entire article here.

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  • Child, Please

    This has got to be a fave quote: “Usually they’re on somebody right away, and I’m like, ‘No, no, guys, stop — that’s exactly what the troll wants you to do.’” I’m glad she prevents her fans from doing that to others who they feel may criticize harshly. If they have a “negative” opinion, then they just do. It’s not hurting her since she doesn’t know them personally. I’m excited to hear more about her in the future!

  • Marisa

    Brittney is a great player and I hope much success for her and her career in the WNBA but, I hope she gets her fare share of recognition because already the commentators have started about the ladies she was drafted with are so hot, and sexy and blah blah blah, they have done to her what was done to Martina back in the day. Putting her up against so called pretty girls, just like they pitted Martina against America’s Sweetheart Chris, same way The Williams ladies were deemed not pretty compared to their white counterparts. Didn’t matter in the end because Venus and Serena were so bad ass they gave folks no choice but to recognize, just like Britt just be bad ass and they will have no choices while they drool over whose pretty. I remember what happened to Anna K and Lolo Jones they got hyped heavy for their looks and made mad dough, then when they didn’t produce the same ones drooling dogged them out for not being winners, and when it comes to sports at least for me all I care about is who WINS.

    • Anthony

      Women sports fans need to speak with their dollars because the opposite sex will always sexualized athlete. Women do it men when they watch them too. That said, I love Brittney Griner for her skills, there enough “hotties” around that I don’t need to be a rounded when I watch women’s sports (although I sure don’t complain when I do!)

    • Anthony

      These auto corrections are making me look illiterate! I said the opposite sex always sexualizes athletes when they watch them, and that there are enough overtly sexy women that I don’t need arousal when I watch women’s sports.

    • Marisa

      I get your point I’m willing to acknowledge which male athletes are cute, hot, good looking whatever but, not when the sport is on. I’m focused on the game especially playoff time were the goal is to hope my squad wins a damn title. For example as a 49er fan I believe my starting QB is hot but, that didn’t factor in AT ALL when all the team had to do is make a play at the freakin 5 yard line and they would have a 6th Super Bowl right now, yeah I’m still mad lol. Yeah Colin being hot really doesn’t factor in the score, if your a casual fan but, hardcore fans like me its all about the wins and losses not the looks

      I think over sexualizing these female athletes is just another way to not fully take them serious as competitive athletes, like ok we’ll barely acknowledge you IF we can just focus on if we think yall are hot, and screw the chicks who we don’t think are hot. Even though they can ball, play, get it done whatever. I know a lot of women who watch sports just to speak on whose hot, single whatever, and guess what those are women I hardly ever watch sports with, nobody wants to hear that sh%t when the game is tied lol.

    • talaktochoba

      female athletes are taken seriously–Olympic soccer, swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, track and field, softball–and in at least one venue, pro tennis, even more seriously than their male counterparts;

      however, since they cannot compete on the male level and are encumbered with an equally competitive drive to look attractive, the ceiling, fairly or not, is permanently set for them;

      if we men had to choose between Brittney or any other WNBA player and Serena, do you really think the vote would be close?

    • Anthony

      Marisa, you don’t spend much energy sexualizing athletes, but many women who are only casual sports fan do mainly sexualize male athletes. I’ve seen it plenty at Superbowl parties. Similarly many men do not follow women’s sports closely, and stuff like who’s cute gets a lot of focus. I still say that stronger support by women of women’s sports will do a lot to make overage more serious.

    • talaktochoba

      regardless, Brittney is hardly the example i would point out to my daughters or granddaughters…and very, very few in the WNBA are, which is precisely why they will never achieve mainstream status despite being carried by the NBA since inception;

  • MsWms3

    O.K. you don’t have to GAY, to appreciate the skills Ms. Griner display on the court. I wasn’t a fan of basketball until I witnessed her play. “ Talaktochoba” the first example your daughters, granddaughters etc. Should look up to, ought to be you, so if you’re such a law abiding, tax paying, without sin person, then those children should be ok. However, Brittney is a voice for those who cannot speak, those same homophobic people posting rude and threating comments are the same reason young GAY Americans are commenting suicide, because they are afraid to be themselves. I think Brittney is tall, bright and sexy. LeBron James maybe a sexy athlete to some but Brittney Griner number 42 does that for me.