Tphotos of Brittney Griner from 17 April 2013 are amazing. It was the night of the WNBA annual recording, and Griner was shining from ear to ear. For months, everyone expected him to be nominated first by Phoenix Mercury. But when WNBA Commissioner Laurel J Richie named Griner on the podium as a major choice, there was a different and clearer prospect in the room.

Because during this time, Griner became the most famous basketball player in the world.

He always wanted her to show off her hobbies. This was not a matter of deciding when to go public, but of the issue at which time the authorities would leave.

So on the night of the preparation, the actors saw Brittney hugging her father Raymond, then climbed the stage. He was still in good spirits, wearing an ivory suit with a satin finish and a low-cut vest, a highly embroidered jacket. Pop pops came out of argyle socks and a playful manicure with bright orange nails, shaking the head to his new team. Looking “fearlessly dapper”, the 6ft 9in Griner stood boldly on the scene. It was the first day of his life.

In a short TV interview a short time later, he was speechless, pausing for a moment. But ESPN recipient Holly Rowe asked, “How do you expect to play with more freedom?”

Griner responded immediately: “I really look forward to freedom.”

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner speaks to ESPN’s Holly Rowe after being listed No. 1 by Phoenix Mercury during the 2013 WNBA draft in April 2013. Photo: Jesse D Garrabrant / NBAE / Getty Images

BRittney Griner has spent almost five months in a Moscow prison camp. He was arrested in February for “major drug trafficking” to Russia, on a trip to his team in Ekaterinburg, where he played EuroLeague football since 2014, like many other WNBA earners. winter time outside.

One week after Griner was arrested, Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

Despite a joint campaign from the WNBA and a growing group seeking its independence, Griner’s imprisonment is not over. His case – which many consider to be “false” – is just beginning. On July 7, he filed a lawsuit, which could open the door to further political negotiations between the United States and Russia for his release. No matter, experts say Griner’s experiment is about to end. He has served as an instrument of human dialogue in the midst of a brutal war, which is in the process of negotiating slavery.

Meanwhile, the US media often fails to imitate Griner’s actions. Because his story has always been bigger than basketball – more important than the Olympic gold medals and medals.

It is a matter of anti-discrimination, cracking the glass roof and radical change. It is a story of female basketball players in the United States and around the world, a story of unhealthy athletes, a story that illustrates why so many WNBA players must continue to seek the respect they already deserve.

This is the true story of Brittney Griner, one of the American trailblazer in and out of the arena.

Griner was born in 1990. WNBA came in 1997, under NBA ownership. From the very beginning, the league has worked hard to maintain its image of homosexuality and women’s cultural roles. A 1998 Washington Post article highlighted a new section in a WNBA half-report, called ‘Girl Talk’, in which “young fans are calling to ask WNBA players questions about their relationships or how to become a WNBA professional”. Being a star in the courtroom, in the 90s, also meant having a “boyfriend” on the side: with the risk of a female athlete who would call herself a shooter.

The league maintained a strong seal for gay and lesbian players with a minority broken. If you look at the WNBA era, the Sheryl Swoopes bullet that came out in 2005 is the only event for 10 years, between 2002 and 2012. Even so, Swoopes told the New York Times, “Five years. Before, I probably wouldn’t. [come out]. I was just afraid of how it would affect me, I was afraid of being lost. It was the only time in his career – when Swoopes won the Olympic gold medal, four WNBA competitions and three MVP honors – that he had the emotional, financial, and confidence to live a free life as an ordinary person.

As a child growing up in Houston, Texas, Griner was often frustrated by the differences. “I think I started to feel different when everyone started telling me I was,” she says in her 2014 book, In My Skin. In elementary school, he was “quiet and thin, my voice low”. The children ridiculed him in the courtyards, shouting: “He must be a boy. She’s not really a girl. ”

The mockery stemmed from Griner’s self-doubt and left him in “mental turmoil”. But by the time he arrived at Nimitz High School as a new 6ft 0in man, basketball had taken a huge toll on his life. He used his size and endurance in the yard; the game gave him interest and courage. In 2007, Griner dunking video went viral on YouTube.

In late 2008, he arrived at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he was spotted walking around the school, laughing at a barbecue with friends, as well as a rival on the basketball court with his 88in wings and his great combination of power. . As a teenager, he led his team to a 40-0 record and 2012 NCAA tournament, scoring game titles along the way.

But during his time at Baylor, Griner was also forced to remain silent about who he was. One day, during his second season, he was invited to the office of the head teacher, Kim Mulkey. As Griner explains in his memoirs, he went to a restaurant yesterday to have a Valentine’s Day dinner with another woman. Although the two did not shake hands at their desk, the voice returned to Mulkey, who told Griner that he was disappointed with what he had done. “You can’t be seen doing this,” Mulkey said. “Big Girl, keep behind closed doors.”

At the time, Baylor had a formal policy in the student textbook prohibiting homosexuality and premarital sex. The school also banned “sex advocacy groups that are at odds with the teachings of the Bible”. As a result, Griner’s freedom was curtailed by the same organization that he helped to promote publicity, bringing money and interest to Baylor. She wrote in her article: “I spent a lot of time wondering if they were really supporting the Brittney Griner or just the Brittney Griner player.

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner led Baylor University to an unbeaten season and international competition in 2012. Photo: Justin Edmonds / Getty Images

IneIt wasn’t long ago, really: When Griner became a professional in 2013, journalists were interested in “playing a fun game of game doors on all professional games”. Although the WNBA continued to refuse to admit that there are too many players and fans. The only player in the league, Seimone Augustus, was a public figure.

Then, at a time when there was a need for regular interviews with Griner and two other top picks – Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins – Sports Illustrated journalist took the opportunity to bring up the subject of sex in sports.

It was not how his media produced what was supposed to happen. But there it was. Without hesitation, Griner jumped in: “I’ve always known who I am and my sexuality. If I can show that I’m out and well and everything is fine, then young people will feel the same way.”

Griner was only 22 years old, still in college, about to begin his professional career. But she did not have the fears that were so prevalent in women’s basketball at the time. And he never went back.

That same week, he also refused to take part in the WNBA competition for cosmetics. And wearing that famous white tuxedo, Griner did more than just ignore gender norms; he showed the potential of players like him to lead change in the league itself.

WNBA had nothing to do but follow. A year later, in 2014, the league participated in their first television game in Phoenix.

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner led Phoenix Mercury to the third round of the franchise in 2014 and a sudden return to WNBA files last October. Photo: Stacy Revere / Getty Images

THe’s the story of the gradual transformation in the WNBA is a long, twisted and complex one. But Brittney Griner is incorporating the spirit of the modern league, with players like Layshia Clarendon, Maya Moore and Natasha Cloud becoming champions in their defensive court appearances, which made the WNBA famous for its leadership of justice.

Even today, the league’s strongest opposition comes from the same players. Many are now leading the WNBA call-up to better support and elevate its black players, such as MVP Jonquel Jones of Connecticut Sun, who “deserves more attention than he gets”, says Seattle Storm actress Breanna Stewart, 2018 MVP.

“It’s hard to be at the table, to be alone, to be black, to be gay and to not feel alone,” Sunney Guardian Williams told Katie Barnes of ESPN. Las Vegas Aces manager Kelsey Plum said he was “angry” with the league’s performance in advertising so he banned the WNBA from the television. “I was receiving special treatment because I was straight and clean,” Plum told Barnes. “It’s a challenge in our league.”

And now the WNBA is facing a new political crisis: the wrong arrest of Brittney Griner. Once again, he is a special protagonist. This time, however, they are experiencing extremely difficult situations.

In improperly constituted cases, criminal cases exist not only to provide justice but also to provide valid reasons for any political action. the result meets the demands of a closed state. In the case of Griner, Russia’s demands may include the exchange of prisoners – a result that could be difficult for many in the US government.

For the next few weeks, or even months, we will only see Griner visuals from Russian media. We will see him chained to a guard, bent over, and passing through the courtyard. But the pictures, even though they show the uncertainty of what is going on, only distort the basic truth.

Griner has always had a deep sense of humor: his ability not only to survive and prosper, but also to make the idea possible for others.

What makes him even more compelled now is the same reason he is often overlooked in America – and why he acts as a helpful target for Vladimir Putin, who has been using violence against homosexuality to further his cause. . In this way, Griner and many queer, Black, non-gender activists can spend their entire lives searching for freedom.

Now just wait and see if he can find it again.

  • Maya Goldberg-Safir is a freelance writer and audio producer in Chicago. Sue Hovey is an editor, writer and filmmaker in Brooklyn, and co-author of Brittney Griner’s In My Skin.

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