Lori Lindsey: A Career Defined by Allyship

Photo by KazLoves Pinoe, license here.

As captured during last week’s #LightiningLegacyWeek recognition by U.S. Soccer, Lori Lindsey has had a remarkable soccer career.  She was the first women’s soccer player since Mia Hamm to win back-to-back ACC Player of the Year honors.  As a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, Lori played in the 2011 World Cup and was an alternate on the 2012 Olympic squad.  She has been a constant in professional soccer in the U.S., a top player in each of the three competitive leagues that have existed since 2000.

Yet as she prepares for her retirement, what we find most remarkable about Lori is how much time and energy she has dedicated to making the world of sports a better place for LGBT athletes.

“Lori may be retiring from life as a professional athlete, but she will never retire from her commitment to making sports a welcoming place for all,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally. “We have been proud to watch Lori advocate and educate for a more equal world, and cannot wait to see how she continues to change the world for the better.”

Lori has been a part of Athlete Ally since the beginning.  She was among our first Pro Ambassadors, and spoke earnestly about why she wanted to become an advocate for allyship.

“Coming to terms with your sexuality can be a lonely process,” she said.  “If I can reach even one person or be someone’s support system, then I’ll feel as if I’ve made a difference.  That’s why I’m an ally.”

Lori came out publicly in a 2012 interview with the website Autostraddle. “I’ve always lived an open life and been very proud of who I am,” she said then.  “I definitely don’t want to lose that and I want younger LGBTQ girls and boys to see that.”

Lori’s advocacy has extended beyond Athlete Ally.  She worked with her best friend, teammate, and fellow Pro Ambassador Megan Rapinoe on HRC’s Love Conquers Hate campaign.  She and her partner, Australian soccer star Sally Shipard, were also a part of YouTube’s Proud to Play campaign.  Most recently, Lori contributed to The Washington Blade’s sports issue, sharing her open love letter to soccer.

She has also encouraged others to support the LGBT community.  Lori was one of the first Olympians to join our Principle 6 campaign.  Last December, she organized several of her Canberra United teammates to join the campaign, and mobilized significant social media support, raising awareness among her friends and fans.

“Lori’s incredible contribution to women’s soccer has been recognized by her teammates, coaches, staff, and fans,” said Laura Clise, a corporate sustainability and diversity strategist and member of the Athlete Ally Board of Directors. “She leads by her example of hard work and perseverance, on and off the pitch. She has brought that same tireless determination and inspiration to her advocacy for LGBT equality, and it is an honor to support her work effecting change in and beyond the LGBT sports movement.”

Lori’s influence goes beyond soccer.  Her courage, spirit, and activism have helped change the culture of professional sports around the world.  She has been an exemplary ally to other athletes and to the many fans who have followed her career.  We know that Lori’s future off the pitch will be one of continued inspiration, value, and success, and we look forward to continuing our work with her.