The 2023 Women’s World Cup has made history. We all know it is the biggest female soccer event in the world, but did you know that this tournament has boasted more gay players than any other international soccer tournament ever? A whopping 96 openly out players were named in teams for the tournament, which accounted for 13% of all players. Australia had 40% of their players as openly out.
The sheer number of gay players competing in the tournament was a testament to the ever-growing acceptance in the sport. We can only see the number rising with each subsequent tournament too.
We would love to talk about every single gay player in the tournament. We were honestly excited to watch every single one of them walk onto the field because we knew that not only were they walking on the field to hopefully win the tournament for their nation, but they walked onto that field representing gay rights. Sadly, we don’t have the time to name them all.
What we can do is talk about 15 of the biggest names in the tournament. Ones that you may have heard of. All of these women are pushing gay rights in the tournament and beyond.
Australian woman Sam Kerr may be the biggest of the gay players in the tournament, and she will be a name that you’ll hear thrown about a lot over the coming weeks, months, and years.
Sam Kerr plays as a forward for both the Australian national team and Chelsea FC (a women’s soccer club in England).
Sam Kerr has been in a relationship with several major names in the world of soccer, although she is currently in a relationship with Kristie Mewis, who we’ll discuss a little later on
As we said, she plays as a forward for Australia, and she has done a tremendous job on the field. In 122 games, she has managed to score in over 50% of them, which isn’t too bad. At the time of writing, she still has at least one game left in her too for the Women’s World Cup, so she may be able to bang in a couple of more!
Outside of international soccer, Sam Kerr has spoken about gay rights in the sport both in Australia and throughout the world. While she still has a lengthy soccer career ahead of her, we can’t help but think that she’ll be promoting gay rights long after she hangs up her boots.
Mackenzie Arnold is a goalkeeper that plays for both Australia and West Ham United. While she hasn’t had that many appearances since she started playing for the national team back in 2012, they have started to ramp up recently and she has become one of the first names on the Australian team sheet.
Mackenzie Arnold is notoriously private about her personal life, so you won’t really see her talking too much to the media about her sexuality, which is fair enough. That is her own business, and nobody deserves to know exactly who you are in love with. However, she has talked a little bit about her current partner.
Since 2021, Mackenzie Arnold has been in a relationship with her teammate, Kirsty Smith, although they kept their relationship a secret for a few years before they decided to come out as a couple, and the Instagram pictures they post together are insanely cute!
If you live in the United States, then Megan Rapinoe may be one of the big names that you have heard of. She has played in several World Cups now (picking up a few of them, as you probably recall), and is probably one of the biggest supporters of LGTBQ causes. In 2019, she was voted as one of the best women’s players in the world.
Megan Rapinoe plays for both the United States National Team and OL Reign as a winger, or at least she did. She claims that she has now played her final game for the international team, and there is a good chance her career at her club is not too far behind.
We wouldn’t be surprised if we are at a turning point in Megan Rapinoe’s career. She has always wanted to be one of the big ‘pushers’ towards more acceptance of the LGTBQ community, and once she hangs up her boots for good, we wouldn’t be surprised if she started to become a heavy political advocate for rights, more so than she has been doing over the last few years (and she has been doing a lot!)
Kyah Simon has made history in a few different ways. She plays for Australia, and not only was she one of the first gay players on the team, but she was also the very first indigenous Australian to score a goal. So, Kyah Simon has been breaking a lot of ground on the soccer field.
At a club level, Kyah Simon plays for Tottenham Hotspur in England.
She hasn’t really spoken too much about her sexuality, preferring to focus on her time on the field. Most of her activism away from the field is not for LGTBQ causes, but to help indigenous Australians get more recognized in sport, which is fantastic as this is a group that has been traditionally overlooked by team selectors.
However, just because she doesn’t do too much when it comes to LGTBQ causes, it doesn’t mean that she isn’t proud of who she is. Trust us. Every single time Kyah Simon walks onto that field, she knows exactly who she is, and she is proud of it. She has stated in several interviews over the years.
Playing for both the United States national team and Gotham FC, Kristie Mewis is another one of the ‘bigger’ names in the 2023 Women’s World Cup. As we mentioned a little bit earlier on, she is currently in a relationship with Sam Kerr (who plays for Australia). Luckily, they didn’t have to face each other in the cup!
We suggest that you keep an eye on Netflix in 2023. Kristie Mewis, along with the rest of the United States national team, have a documentary coming out. We reckon that a good amount of the documentary will talk about what it is like to be out and playing in one of the biggest women’s soccer tournaments in history and, by all accounts, Kristie Mewis will be playing a very prominent role in this.
Jess Carter is a player for the English Women’s National Soccer Team and Chelsa FC. Although, she also holds US citizenship, and, for a brief while, there was a chance that this defender would have played for the US team. However, since she grew up in England, she decided that she would rather represent the country that she grew up in and feels a deep connection to.
At 25 years old, she is at the mid-point of her soccer career, but we can’t help but feel that she is getting a lot better and we are going to see even more great stuff from Jess. She has certainly made quite a splash during the 2023 Women’s World Cup! She has enough gas in the tank to probably be one of the first defenders on the team sheet when the next Women’s World Cup rolls around in 2027.
Jess is currently in a relationship with Ann-Katrin Berger. She played for Germany in the World Cup.
She may only be 27, but Katie McCabe is one of the more accomplished Irish female soccer players in history. The media in Ireland have dubbed her as one of the most recognizable faces in the sport. Chances are, we’ll see a lot more to come from this versatile defender.
Katie McCabe has never been ‘in the closet’ since she has been a soccer star. In fact, she’s had a number of very public relationships (unfortunately, the latest ended just before the World Cup).
Katie McCabe regularly talks about how the women’s soccer community is one of the most welcoming when it comes to LGTBQ, and she encourages anybody who may be in the closest to come out, particularly if they play in Ireland because she knows that even one of the most religious countries in the western world will be welcoming to them.
Representing the Philippines National Team, Tahnai Annis broke new ground. Due to the very Catholic Philippines not being a great place to be ‘out’, she is one of only a few openly gay players on her team, and she has managed to attract a lot of positive attention for this. Although it may help that for much of her life she was based in the United States.
Over the years, Tahnai Annis has been a spokesman for many LGTBQ groups, including Athlete Ally, an advocacy group focused on making the sport more comfortable for those that are part of the LGTBQ community.
Ivana Andres is a center-back. She plays for both Spain and Real Madrid. She is the captain of the Spanish national team, which means she has managed to command the respect of her teammates. No surprise there, really. Every time you see Ivana Andres step onto the field, you can see that she has insanely strong leadership skills.
Ivana Andres hasn’t really spoken too much about her sexuality to the media. She does prefer to focus on her soccer. However, she has spoken a little to Spanish news outlets about how she feels comfortable in the current soccer environment.
Caroline Seger plays for the Swedish national team, and she has been a massive hit in Sweden. Not just for her footballing skills either.
As you may know, Sweden is one of the most accepting countries in the world when it comes to gay rights. However, even there, Carolina Seger found it incredibly difficult to get the courage to come out when she was younger. It wasn’t until much later on in her life that things changed.
While she does focus a lot on her football career, you’ll also find her talking regularly to Swedish media about LGTBQ causes. One of her big focuses has been on helping those that may be worried to come out’ to actually come out. She wants to let them know that everything will be OK and that others may be way more accepting than they may think. She doesn’t want people to suffer the same mental health issues that she had when she was younger.
Kelley O’Hara plays as a wingback for the United States and DC Gotham. Outside of her soccer career, she has a podcast (Just Women’s Sports) where she talks about female sports globally. She touches a lot on LGTBQ issues in the podcast.
At the tail end of 2022, Kelley O’Hara was featured a lot in the media. She got engaged to her longtime partner, Kameryn Stenhouse (who works for Politico). This has resulted in Kelley O’Hara focusing a lot more on gay rights, particularly in soccer.
Pernille Harder plays for both the Danish National Team and Bayern Munich. She is a very versatile player on the field, but she mostly plays as a forward. Interestingly, she is the only gay Danish player to make the squad. This surprises us since Denmark is also another one of the more accepting countries. Although, we can assume that some of the women feel comfortable enough that they don’t need to publicly declare themselves as gay.
She is in a relationship with Magdalena Eriksson, who lined up for Sweden in the 2023 World Cup. Together, the two of them have pledged to donate 1% of their paycheck to tackle a variety of social issues in soccer.
Daniela Montoya plays for both Colombia and Junior as a forward.
Daniela Montoya doesn’t talk too much about her sexuality in Colombia. Not because she is ashamed of who she is (she really isn’t), but because she spends most of her time pushing for equality between both male and female sports. In fact, her constant push for equality has often put her on the brink of being removed from the Colombian team, although that’s not happened.
Linda Caicedo plays for both Colombia and Real Madrid. She is only 18 years old, and she has already caused a massive stir on the international scene. In fact, she was causing a stir when she made her pro debut when she was just 14.
She is in a relationship with somebody called Valentina. If you watched the 2023 World Cup, then you may have seen Linda Caicedo celebrate one of her goals by making a heart sign with her hands. This was her tribute to her partner.
Finally, we have Lina Hurtig. She plays as a midfielder for both Sweden and Arsenal.
She is married to Lisa Hurtig, an ex-Swedish soccer player. While the two of them don’t talk too much about their relationship in public, it is known that the two had a child together in 2021.
She will probably be well-remembered for her skills in the 2023 World Cup. In fact, it was her penalty that sent reigning champions United States crashing out of the tournament (unfortunately, Sweden were knocked out in the following round)
Remember, this is just a fraction of the gay players in the 2023 World Cup. There are over 70 more. Each of them paves the way for future generations of women sports stars to feel much more comfortable in their own skin. We’re at a turning point in gay acceptance in female sports, and we’re glad to be around for it. We wouldn’t be surprised if these women (and the other women we didn’t mention) are having a huge impact on making the younger generation feel much more comfortable with who they are.