Don’t assume I’m a lesbian just because I play lacrosse

My sexual orientation is not defined by the sport I play


When I was in high school, I was routinely called lesbian, dyke, and butch after one decision labeled me as such: I started playing lacrosse. Ladies that have played lacrosse, field hockey, softball, and rugby all know what I’m talking about. Boys labeled these sports specifically as “lesbian sports,” and I don’t know why that is.

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Lacrosse, much like soccer, is a non-sport for women. We play with eye protection and mouth guards, which means that a lot of injuries occur. We are tough girls for what we have to put up with. Hell, we even wore skirts when I played in high school! That’s about as feminine, if not as misogynistic, as a sport can get. Yet boys continued to determine my sexual orientation because of the game I loved.

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Maybe the idea of being “the tough girl” is what is intimidating these boys. Girls playing field hockey, lacrosse, and rugby need to know how to handle pain, how to play through illegal blows, and keep up the endurance all the while. To a certain extent, it seems that all female athletes experience this feeling at some point. Do you have massive arm muscles? Well, you must like females… Logical, right?

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Though it bothered me to be labeled a certain orientation, I came to a very eye-opening decision that it doesn’t matter. Would I love it if boys stopped making assumptions about players of a certain sport? Yes. Did it matter to me that cute boys I liked thought I was a lesbian? You bet. But does it bother me to be called a lesbian? Not at all. Being a lesbian isn’t a put down, just like being a girl isn’t either. “You run like a girl” or “you’re a lax lesbo” are just phrases that make no sense to me. Call me a lesbian or a girl, but be prepared for me to exceed your expectations.

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Feminism is one of the biggest movements of our generation, and these situations shed light on why that is. Women should not be objectified or classified by their sport preferences, nor should our sports be deemed as less important than others.

As a lacrosse player, I remember having to fight for our athletic department to pay for socks as part of our uniform, while the boys had no problem getting their brand-new set of 100+ uniforms, socks and all. The name-calling was the most obvious part, but the authorities overlooking our sport also played a hand in the undermining.

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When I look at my experience of being a female athlete, most of my memories are of bonding with the girls over these demeaning actions. We grew together as a team, a team that didn’t care and didn’t ask about sexual orientation because we were labeled as such already. These things didn’t matter to us, because we knew what was important: our respect for women and our respect for the game.