Hey, I saw a tweet that the WNBA has openly gay players. That is a professional sports league. It just happens to be made up of second-class citizens known as women, so of course if this is true, then they wouldn't really count in the "first professional athlete to be openly gay" category.
It's totally true. From the P-I in 2005:
Three-time Olympic gold medalist. Three-time Most Valuable Player in the WNBA. And, as of Wednesday, the only openly gay athlete to currently play a major professional team sport.
Many people said Sheryl Swoopes' announcement that she is gay was a non-story—either because her sexuality shouldn't matter or because she is far from a household name. But the Houston Comets star, perhaps the best woman to ever work the hardwoods, is in a public club of one. And that has made her revelation a landmark.
Eight years ago, Sheryl Swoopes essentially said, "I'm a 34-year-old WNBA forward. I'm black. And I'm gay." There are other openly gay players in the WNBA, too.
I totally understand that cultural expectations around men's sports and sexuality are different from those around women's, and I don't want to step on history's big basketball-shaped happy face. But I do feel like this should be acknowledged.