LGBT Pride Month: Candace Parker: Breaking Down Barriers On and Off the Court

If something has distinguished Candace Parker throughout his collegiate and professional career on the courts has been his determination. She dominated in the NCAA and continues to shine and be one of the biggest influences in the WNBA, even guiding the Chicago Sky to their first championship last year. Many girls are now basketball players because they grew up watching her play.

Barriers do not exist in Parker’s life and if he comes across one, he always finds a way to overcome it. As a result of her successful career in the WNBA, Parker began a stage in 2018 as an analyst for the NBA and the NCAA men’s tournament for the TNT network and currently she is one of the best in the branch.

Parker’s facets are varied. In addition to being a men’s basketball analyst, she is one of the biggest investors in women’s soccer in the United States. She and her daughter Lailaa are owned by Angel City FC, one of two expansion teams in the NWSL as of this season.

As in his professional life, there are no barriers for Parker in his personal life.

“Breaking barriers is about not staying in your lane and not being what the world expects you to be. It’s about not accepting limitations. It starts with inspiration, and it’s a creation built on dismantling what everyone thinks it is.” the right way to do things,” said the basketball player during the TED talk she gave this past January. “There are a lot of pioneers, right here, who are fighting hard to open doors that they may never cross. But they do it anyway, because we stand on the shoulders of those who did it for us. It’s an uphill battle and it doesn’t guarantee great victories or great success”.

Precisely wanting to break barriers was what led Parker to reveal in December 2021, through a post on his Instagram account, that two years earlier he had married a woman, fellow basketball player Anya Petrakova, and that the Russian was waiting for the the couple’s first child. Sure enough, Parker declared to the four winds that he loved a woman. Parker and Petrakova did not hesitate to tell the story of him to everyone; the American star shared her feelings.

“Happy anniversary my wife! 2 years ago I married my best friend in front of our family and close friends. My heart could have exploded. I cried like a baby,” Parker wrote. “Knowing me or knowing you is knowing our love. This journey has not been easy. I am proud of us and what we have built and what we have become, both individually and together.”

Before marrying Petrakova, Parker was married for eight years to former NBA forward Shelden Williams. From that union a daughter was born, Lailaa, who is currently 13 years old. Lailaa is already following in her parents’ footsteps and showing great talent on the court.

In this LGBT Pride Month, Candace’s love story is cause for celebration. Still, it’s worth noting how difficult — by her own account — it was for Parker to come out of the closet, despite the fact that she is one of the most beloved and decorated athletes in the WNBA and the world, two-time league champion and winner of two Olympic gold medals with the United States.

The WNBA has always been a great ally of the LGBT community and its fans as well. But there is speculation that Parker’s reluctance to share his personal life may be in part because his wife is Russian, and Parker plays in the offseason in Russia. In that country, marriage between people of the same sex is prohibited and there are no protections against discrimination of LGBT people. In fact, Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury has been detained in Russia since February 17; Although the cause is due to having vaporizer cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage, it is feared that her sexual orientation could be used against her by the Russian authorities.

In this 2022, 20% of the WNBA players have publicly declared themselves to be LGBT. Certainly 20% is a staggering figure for a professional league — in fact, it might be the highest percentage in the world for any professional league. The WNBA is becoming more followed in the United States, not yet at the level of women’s soccer, but there is no doubt that its growth has been significant in recent years.

While the plucky Parker can’t be given full credit for this, she can be held up as an example on many fronts. First of all, she plays at a very high level like other stars like the GOAT Diana Taurasi, earning the respect of NBA players. The 11th-leading scorer on the WNBA’s all-time roster received a clinic from Kobe Bryant himself after his retirement. In 2021, upon becoming champion with the Chicago Sky, Parker dedicated the title to the late Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

Parker has also been using her platform for years advocating for equal pay for women and equal treatment for female players of color compared to white female players. Adding cause for people to fearlessly speak up about their sexual preferences is encouraging them to break down more barriers like she always has.

And there are still many barriers to break, a lot of work to do for the Chicago Sky star. It is true that Parker, the WNBA and the LGBT organizations face a lack of interest or at best, little attention, that is, a disparity in audience compared to women’s soccer and the NBA due to the deep-rooted history of the game. racism and homophobia in the United States.

“Most of the players in the W[NBA] they are African-American and many are homosexual. When it comes to women’s soccer in the US, the general perception is that — let’s face it — we are the white girls next door,” women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who is lesbian, wrote in an article published today. in The Player’s Tribune in 2020, when she contrasted the tremendous growth and visibility of women’s soccer in the United States with the lack of such advancements in professional women’s basketball.

The current generation of fans is increasingly diverse and supportive of diversity and equality, including the LGBT community. Therefore, there is probably no other professional sports league that is better prepared to welcome them with open arms than the WNBA.

On May 23, Parker was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of 2022. She was honored in the ‘Pioneers’ category, along with names like engineer and data scientist Frances Haugen, musician and songwriter Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson and freestyle skiing sensation in the latest JJ. OO. of Winter in Beijing, Eileen Gu, among others.

“Many young women looking up to Candace are seeing how she is raising her voice and achieving greatness. Her legend is growing,” former NBA star Dwyane Wade wrote of Candace being included on the list.

At 36 years old, Parker continues to inspire a generation of basketball players and continues to use her platform to promote racial and gender equality. In fact, in April he produced a documentary on how the federal civil rights law, Title IX, which turns 50 this June 2022, has promoted gender equality in sports in the United States and offers protection to student victims of violence. bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault on or off campus.

With her beautiful family and an entire league by her side, Candace Parker will continue to break down barriers on and off the court.

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LGBT Pride Month: Candace Parker: Breaking Down Barriers On and Off the Court