Abby Wambach
Abby Wambach

Ahead of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Abby Wambach opens up about why she never came out publicly.

Many people in the LGBT community feel that it’s necessary for celebrities and professional athletes to come out and be transparent about their sexuality. They believe it helps influence public perception and has a positive effect on LGBT youth.

I agree. However, I also believe that it’s asking too much to expect it. Everyone, even celebrities and professional athletes should be able to come out on their own terms and in their own time.

Abby Wambach is one particular athlete that has managed to dodge the spotlight on her sexuality for her entire career. For years, rumours and speculation followed her on and off the soccer field. After her U.S. women’s soccer teammate Megan Rapinoe came out (and landed a cover on Curve Magazine), many of Wambach’s loyal lesbian fans expected her to do the same. But she didn’t. She went on quietly with her life. It wasn’t until her 2013 marriage to Sarah Huffman that she even broached the subject openly, and the wedding was done with little fanfare. In speaking candidly in a recent New York Times article, Wambach explained why:

“I never felt like I had to have this huge party for myself about my sexuality. To make a party for something that I think of as normal, for me, that just didn’t seem authentic. I wanted it to be as normal as possible.”

According to the article, Wambach added that she wanted to show that same-sex marriage could be as typical and routine as a heterosexual one. She also explained how her attention shifted from soccer to soccer and family:

“I’ll be honest. After I got married, I definitely had a shift in emotional devotion. Forever, it was just soccer — passion, life, love. Then I got married, and I had to transfer some of my energy. I want to be my best for my country, but I also made a really big promise and choice to be the best in my marriage. That has not always been the easiest thing to manage.”

Wambach will be 35 years old at the start of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which in soccer years is a lifetime. This summer may very well be her last chance to go for gold. Even though she never intended to make a bold statement regarding her sexuality, the entire world will be watching her.

And that’s a win for the LGBT community, with or without a World Cup title.