Here I find myself in my 16th season with the WNBA and for the first time I want to tell my PRIDE story. Although my career is very public, off the court I have always tended to be a private person. This does not mean that I am not a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. If anything, witnessing our community grow has been a great source of pride. If my story encourages just one person to live more comfortably or confidently, that would feel like a meaningful, personal contribution to it.
For me, Pride is not only about celebrating the work and success of the LGBTQ+ movement, being out and proud, but also celebrating the often-overlooked contributions of Black people. Reclaiming our place in the movement starts by recognizing and honoring those who came before – people like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Audre Lorde. As a black woman, when I think of the people of color who pioneered and carried the movement, I’m reminded that we cannot celebrate or even talk about Pride without recognizing the efforts of Black activists who led the way. These roots have led to an intersectionality between today’s LGBTQ+ and BLM movements that is undeniable. But it is not all love. Tragically, I also think of the many Black trans faces we have only come to know because their lives were stolen from them because of the hate that still exist.
I recognize how privileged I have been to not only have a career in professional women’s basketball, and how that privilege has allowed me to marry the woman I loved and have children. I think back to when our girls were in the NICU and a doctor approached us and thanked us for being who we are and for living our truth. Honestly, prior to that moment, I had never given much thought to how blessed I was to be able to marry the person I love, regardless of their sex. From that day forward, I made it a point to intentionally live my truth in an effort to encourage others to do the same.
If we have learned anything from the sacrifices and hard work from those that have come before us, it should be to celebrate proudly and help uplift others. The most important lessons start in the home, so it is crucial that my girls are able to see that pride, rather than let the world teach them otherwise. I place a large emphasis on allowing them to be themselves. At three-years-old they already have classmates telling them that “girls don’t dress like that!” I try my best to eliminate gender roles and encourage my family to do the same. Sometimes it is as simple as letting them know that despite calls to the contrary, girls can wear blue and boys can wear pink. On the other hand, if one of them wants to wear a dress, then wear a dress. If it is basketball shorts and little plastic high heels then I’m all for that too. I give them the freedom of choice without judgement and try my best to educate them through my unconditional approval.
As a member and supporter of both the LGBTQ+ and BLM movements, I am honored and proud to celebrate the success and sacrifice of our leaders. I hope that as we continue to celebrate Pride month, we never forget to encourage others to continue to lift-up our community proudly, the most effective way of fighting back against hate.
– Candice Dupree