Sexuality is up to the individual

By Andrea Edl

On October 26, ESPN The Magazine published an article in which Sheryl Swoopes, forward for the WNBA’s Houston Comets, announced she is a lesbian.

According to the story on, Swoopes has been living with her partner, Alisa Scott, for a number of years. In the article, Swoopes said, “I’m tired of having to hide my feelings about the person I care about … About the person I love … I can’t help who I fall in love with. No one can.”

Also mentioned in the article, Swoopes was married and has an eight-year-old son. She divorced her husband in 1999, not because she was homosexual, but because she “matured a lot faster than he did,” according to the article.

Regarding this issue, she also said, “I didn’t always know I was gay. I honestly didn’t. Do I think I was born this way? No. And that’s probably confusing to some, because I know a lot of people believe that you are.”

Most of the response is positive support for Swoopes, while some believe the aforementioned quote could get her a lot of negative backlash from the gay community.

While many think homosexuality is a choice, a great number of people conversely believe one is born with that orientation.

The author of an article on expects Swoopes’s coming out of the closet to receive negative response from homosexual activists. The article quotes Stephen Bennett, a former homosexual who runs a ministry that helps those who want to leave the homosexual lifestyle.

“With her using that word that she has chosen the lifestyle, I’m telling you it’s going to be like whacking a hornets’ nest,” he said. “The bees are going to come out and just literally try to sting this lady for saying that.”

I asked associate professor of English and women’s studies Diana Swanson, who is also the coordinator of the LGBT studies program here at NIU, what she thought of this particular issue.

She stressed the importance of the fact there is no scientific evidence to support either side of the argument of whether or not homosexuality is biologically inherent at birth.

She commented, “I think that the answer that makes most sense, given all the knowledge that we do have, is that sexuality is a complex result of physiology, psychology and the socio-cultural influences. Put simply, it isn’t nature or nurture, but both, and it is beyond any simple choice by individuals.”

I share Swanson’s opinion. All the negative attention Swoopes is receiving is ridiculous. No one has any right to criticize Swoopes for her opinion on homosexuality, or the way she became and/or realized she was a lesbian, since there is no evidence to support the other side of the argument.

The way she became and/or realized she was a lesbian shouldn’t matter anyway. She should be praised for her courage to be able to come out at all, especially in a society wherein which homosexuality isn’t always smiled upon.

Swoopes put it best when she said in the ESPN article, “I’m content with who I am and who I’m with. Whether people think that’s right, whether they think it’s wrong, I don’t care. We shouldn’t, and can’t, judge each other.”

She, nor any other person, should be criticized by the gay community, or any other community for that matter, for being homosexual.

Swoopes’ status as a role model has been taken into question since her coming out.

This above all should not be affected. She should not be looked at any differently than she was before she came out.

Swanson believes, “children and young people need visible role models of gay, lesbian and bisexual people who are successful citizens contributing to society in their particular walks of life. Heterosexual kids need to know about ‘queer’ people who do not conform to bigoted stereotypes. Gay, lesbian and bisexual kids need role models that give them hope for their futures.”

So Sheryl Swoopes came out of the closet.

She’s still the same strong woman, role model and basketball player she always was.

What’s the big deal?