America is a strange place sometimes. As hard as people fight for the rights of gays and lesbians and transgender folks, in doing so, the rights of heterosexual people can sometimes be trampled on and disrespected as well, which is oppression and prejudice all the same.
While the NFL was threatening to boot anyone who wasn’t a fan of Michael Sam being allowed to openly express his sexuality, Candice Wiggins was a heterosexual WNBA player who says she was ridiculed, bullied and bothered because she was NOT gay.
Yup. Nobody is safe from prejudice in this world and when you are the minority, it is easy for the majority to all go along with suppressing and attacking you. It becomes the culture.
Nearly one year since announcing her retirement, the former WNBA star revealed Monday that she was bullied during her time in the league.
According to Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the former Minnesota Lynx standout said her status as a heterosexual made her a target for criticism:
"Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge. I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women," Wiggins revealed. "It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they [the other players] could apply.
There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we're all fighting for crumbs. 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.'"
Wiggins called the WNBA culture "toxic" and said it contributed to her retiring after winning one championship and playing eight seasons with the Lynx, Tulsa Shock, Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty -- two years earlier than she intended.
I covered women’s basketball at the college and pro level early in my career and what Wiggins has revealed isn’t exactly a bombshell. But if we are going to call pro leagues to the carpet for not fostering an environment that is tolerant and welcoming of people who have different sexual and lifestyle preferences, the WNBA has to be held to the same standards.
In no way can that league encourage an environment that makes heterosexual people feel oppressed, out of place, or leaves them subject to attacks because of their sexual preference. To allow such an environment is the double standard of double standards and creates an unsafe work atmosphere for heterosexual WNBA players.
I hope WNBA President Lisa Borders takes Wiggins’ claims very seriously, investigates and cleans up any prejudice or hetero-phobic cultural that is entrenched in the league.
Now 30, Wiggins has chosen to switch sports and pursue a career in professional beach volleyball with aspirations of playing for Team USA one day.
Hopefully she will find the comradery and social acceptance she desires and not be forced into retirement because of a culture of intolerance that has apparently infested the WNBA and are in direct conflict to the principles and objectives the league was founded upon.