Sex Roles

, Volume 74, Issue 7–8, pp 335–346 | Cite as

It’s Complicated: Negotiations and Complexities of Being a Lesbian in Sport

  • Jennifer J. Waldron
Original Article


Through the lens of feminist post-structuralism, identities of sex, gender, and sexuality are socially-constructed and fluid as a result of discourse and language. From this perspective, the purpose of this paper is to examine the negotiated and often complex experiences of lesbian athletes and coaches within sport, primarily in the United States of America. After highlighting tenets of feminist post-structuralism, I posit a dominant discourse in sport, which I call the myth of the lesbian athlete. Here, myth is used as the prevalent ideologies used to validate practices of social inequality. The myth of the lesbian athlete is re/produced in the sport environment through institutional practices of exclusion, marginalization, and the silencing of sexual minorities. However, because power is reciprocal, lesbian athletes and coaches are not powerless victims. There are multiple tactics lesbian athletes and coaches use to resist and disrupt the myth of the lesbian athlete. The paper concludes with strategies to make women’s sport more inclusive for all in order to respect and value all individuals, and their identities, on the team and within the organization. The current paper adds to the existing knowledge by proposing the existence of the myth of the lesbian athlete and by re/producing and resisting the myth, creates complexities to being a lesbian in sport.


Lesbian Sport Feminist Post-structuralist Female athlete 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

This manuscript represents results of original work that have not been published elsewhere.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure ServicesUniversity of Northern IowaCedar FallsUSA

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