This is some great news, especially for the legions of lesbian fans who fill up Philips Arena cheering on the Atlanta Dream to win.

wnbaatlantadreamangelAngel McCoughtry, the star forward for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream and an Olympic Gold medalist, came out as gay through her Instagram account on Tuesday after an apparent dispute with the Turkish team she played for during the U.S. off-season.

Turkish sports websites reported on McCoughtry and her girlfriend, actress Brande Elise, shortly after McCoughtry came out via Instagram.

The Instagram post, with a photo of McCoughtry and Elise of Atlanta, says:

“Yes we been discriminated against! We lost friends! Family members are upset! They said I disgraced my religion! One thing I do know is that LOVE is a great feeling! My last overseas team threatened my job if i didn’t write a fake letter on social media saying my relationship was a lie. But all i know, Love is a great feeling! I understand we all judge and its in human nature, but the more i speak to God i never feel judgement front he man upstairs, even tho he has all the power too! He tells me to fall, learn, and grow because thats life. But to always keep my heart pure and believe totally in him. All i know love is a great feeling and GOD is Love.”

McCoughtry helped Team USA to gold medals at the 2010 FIBA World Championship for Women and the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She had played professionally for Fenerbahҫe in Istanbul since 2011. But according to basketball.eurobasket.com, the team “released” McCoughtry on Feb. 18 of this year.

On her Instagram account, McCoughtry posted that she left the team due to contractual agreements:

“Sports International Group announced today that Olympic Gold Medalist and WNBA All-Star Angel McCoughtry has terminated her contract with Fenerbache Spor Kulubu Women’s Basketball Club. The termination was due to continuous violations of the player-club contract by the Club. “Angel loved playing for this Club for the last five years, but this season the Club has been consistently violating the terms of the contract and she has lost her trust in Club management,” said McCoughtry’s agent Boris Lelchitski. “Angel truly loved Fener fans and appreciated their support.” McCoughtry had been playing for the Turkish Club since 2010, helping them win three Turkish League Championshipd and reach the Euroleague Final in 2014 and most recently being named Euroleague player of the week after scoring 31 points against Energa Torun.” “Bügün uluslararasi spor grubunu üzücü bir açıklama ile altin madalyali ve WNBA All-Star Angel McCoughtry ,nin Fenerbahçe Spor kulübü bayanlar Basketbol takimi ile olan sözleşmesini sona erdirdiğini duyurdu. Sonlandırma nedeni olarak oyuncu ile kulüp arasindaki sözleşmenin sürekli ihlal edilmesi gösterildi , “Angel son beş yildir Fenerbahçe Külübünde oynamaktan cok memnun olduğunu ama bu sezon Kulübün sürekli Olarak sözleşme koşullarını ihlal etmesi ve Kulüp yönetimine karşi güvenini kaybettiğini söyeleyen,” McCoughtry nin, danışmanı Boris Lelchitski “Angel Fener tarafarinin ona verdiği sonsuz desteği için de çok minnettar Olduğunu dile getirdi . McCoughtry Fenerbahçe külübünde 2010 yılından bu yana son üç Türk Ligi Şampiyonasi kazanmalarina ve 2014 Euro lig de Final Ulaşmalarini Sağlamiştir ,yakin zaman önce ise Euro lig de , Enegra Torun Karşisinda 31 Puan ile Kazandiği haftanin en iyi oyuncusu ünvanina layik görülmüştür . Bügün uluslararasi spor grubunu üzücü bir açıklama ile altin madalyali ve WNBA All-Star Angel McCoughtry ,nin Fenerbahçe Spor kulübü bayanlar Basketbol takimi ile olan sözleşmesini sona erdirdiğini duyurdu. Sonlandırma nedeni olarak oyuncu ile kulüp arasindaki sözleşmenin sürekli ihlal edilmesi gösterildi , “Angel son beş yildir Fenerbahçe Külübünde oynamaktan cok memnun olduğunu ama bu sezon Kulübü” A photo posted by angel mccoughtry (@mccoughtry) on

Same-sex relationships are not illegal in Turkey, but LGBT people are often discriminated against.

However, according to a Nov. 26, 2014, YouTube video and story, Elise and McCoughtry celebrated their engagement very publicly in Turkey with teammates.

Many of McCoughtry’s Turkish teammates and fans tweeted their sadness that she was leaving the team.

McCoughtry tweeted her disdain of her treatment of by the vice-president of advertising, marketing and fundraising of the Fenerbahce club:

In the summer of 2013, I asked to speak to an openly gay player on the Atlanta Dream for a story I was writing for the Georgia Voice about on homophobia in sports. There was one player, I was told, but the team leadership didn’t want her to be interviewed—maybe because she was a rookie, maybe because of some other reason.

Several other members of the media and I did get to speak to McCoughtry as part of an Atlanta Dream Media Day. I asked her if she knew any gay players in the WNBA. But, no, I didn’t ask her if she was gay. Our exchange:

When asked if she knew any gay players, she laughed knowingly.

And then she said she doesn’t care if a player is gay or straight.

“That has nothing to do with who a person is,” she said. “To me, I keep it professional. We’re teammates. Your personal life is your personal life. Whatever your preference is, I have nothing to do with it and I have nothing against it as well.”

WNBA No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner came out in April, shortly after being drafted by the Phoenix Mercury. McCoughtry said she thought it was a good move for Griner if she felt she needed to do it.

“She came out and that’s great and it’s great that she is free and open and it’s great people accept it,” McCoughtry said.

McCoughtry added that NBA player Jason Collins’ coming out two weeks after Griner and the accolades he received from his first-person piece in Sports Illustrated seemed a bit unfair compared to women who have come out in many sports before him.

“I never hear about men coming out. Since that one guy did, Collins, he’s been getting all the press. But when Sheryl Swoopes came out she kind of like lost her endorsements. Who was Collins before he came out?” she asked. “And why was [Swoopes] left in the dust? And you can quote me on that.”

I am so happy to be able to quote McCoughtry now (albeit through her social media accounts) as she comes out proudly and tells the world about being in love. We should all cheer her for this momentous step. She is helping to continue to knock down homophobic barriers that exist in professional sports. Most importantly, she is in love and is living her live truthfully. And now Atlanta lesbians can say our favorite player is also a member of our own special team.

Way to go, Angel. I wish you both the best. And I can’t wait to see you shine on the court.

The Atlanta Dream’s 2015 schedule begins June 5 with an away game against the New York Liberty.

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