Gay jock Layshia Clarendon is bringing her basketball talents – and outspoken support of LGBT issues – to Atlanta as the Dream acquired the talented guard from the Indiana Fever.
Clarendon – named Female Hero of the Year in 2015 by LGBT sports site Outsports – will join WNBA All-Star and Olympian Angel McCoughtry as the second openly gay player on the Dream roster. The teams announced the trade on Tuesday ahead of the Dream's season opener on Saturday.
“Layshia Clarendon is a proven player in this league and having played with Indiana and she has experience competing in playoff basketball,” Atlanta head coach Michael Cooper said in a prepared statement. “I think she is a good pick up for us. She is a defensive-minded player that I followed since her college days and have seen her maturation as she has progressed through the WNBA. For us this was a no-brainer. She adds depth to our team and is a big guard that can take on some of the stronger guards in the league without help.”
Clarendon was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft and posted career-best season averages in 2015 in points, rebounds and assists as the Fever won the Eastern Conference Title and played in the WNBA Finals.
Clarendon, 25, has been out to her "basketball circle" since high school and then as a scholarship player at the University of California, Berkeley. In a moving essay for the Player's Tribune – "Keeping the Faith" published in August – Clarendon discussed her difficult coming out and the struggle between her faith and sexuality.
"I identify as black, gay, female, non-cisgender and Christian. I am an outsider even on the inside of every community to which I belong. My very existence challenges every racial, sexual, gender and religious barrier," Clarendon wrote.
In December, Outsports named her its Female Hero of the Year.
What sets her apart from so many other professional athletes for us this year has been her willingness, her overt desire, to use her platform to shift the conversation about lesbians and trans athletes in women's sports. While Clarendon may not have posted the numbers this season that make heads turn, she has worked tirelessly to build bridges and open closet doors for women across sports.
When the trade was announced – and now that she's in Atlanta – Clarendon reacted on Twitter.
I will miss the @IndianaFever fans and community so much. I hope we keep pushing the envelope with LGBT issues.— Layshia Clarendon (@Layshiac) May 10, 2016
I'm excited to join the @AtlantaDream and play for Coach Coop. I know he hated me at Cal but now we're on the same team! ✊��— Layshia Clarendon (@Layshiac) May 10, 2016
There are so many black people in Atlanta!!!! ✊����❤️— Layshia Clarendon (@Layshiac) May 11, 2016