Womens Sports

The WNBA Is ’98 Percent Gay’ According To Candice Wiggins

Wiggins also claims that there's an anti-straight culture in the league, but her spicy takes don't stand up to scrutiny

Womens Sports
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Feb 21, 2017 at 2:35 PM ET

Former WNBA player Candice Wiggins claims that the WNBA’s culture pushes straight, conventionally feminine women like herself into an early retirement. The former No. 3 overall pick and Sixth Woman of the Year claims her decision to retire last year derived from a WNBA culture best distilled as “Mean Girls, but gayer.”

Wiggins told the San Diego Union-Tribune that “98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women.” Her approximation of the league’s queerness sets her backdrop for the abuse she believes was a response to being “vocal in my identity as a straight woman.”

From the Union-Tribune:

“There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs,” Wiggins said. “The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.

“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’ “

Though the league has positioned itself as a friendly place for queer athletes and LGBT fans, it’s virtually impossible that a league with no more than a dozen athletes who’ve publicly come out could be almost entirely gay. Especially when you consider that Britney Griner, the 2013 draft’s No. 1 pick, spoke of her fear of being “rejected” and “cast out” while reflecting on her coming-out experience with USA Today.

Melding Griner’s testimony with Wiggins’ experience would result in a strange and unlikely hypothetical: a WNBA so fearful of heterosexuality that it’s formed a membrane insulating itself against straight stars like Wiggins. None of this is made more plausible by Wiggins’ firing off especially fiery takes on the league’s lesbian population being pressured to act like men:

“So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”

Wiggins returns to her so-called pride in her womanhood, juxtaposing this pride with an articulation of manhood embedded in WNBA culture. She doesn’t define manhood and womanhood, per sé, but her earlier claim of a mostly-gay league helps us speculate on where Wiggins draws the lines.

There may very well be a culture of hazing and bullying in the WNBA since whatever latent disregard Wiggins has for the femininity of her former colleagues doesn’t eliminate the possibility of real issues in the league. But those obvious biases make her account hard to take at face-value. I mean, 98 percent gay? Come on.