When other celebrities remain quiet out of fear of alienating their fanbase or impacting their net worth in the wake of anti-gay violence and repeated shootings of unarmed black men by police, Atlanta Dream point guard and lesbian Layshia Clarendon is as outspoken as ever.
Now in her first season with the Atlanta Dream after previously playing three seasons for the Indiana Fever, Clarendon describes herself as “biracial, black, gay, female, genderqueer and Christian.” She is also quickly adding activist to her list of identifiers. One scroll through her Twitter or Instagram feed and you’re likely to read her thoughts on feminism, white supremacy and the recent shooting of Alton Sterling, a black man whose final moments were captured on video as he was shot multiple times by police outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“She has had many speaking engagements thanks to her activism, which has included panel talks at the Human Rights Campaign in Atlanta and the Sports Business Journal in New York. She also writes frequently, which included a sports blog and a piece in Esquire two weeks ago about the LGBT movement’s lack of emphasis on transgender individuals.”
“All my life, I’ve lived at the center of intersections: biracial, gay, and Christian and, most recently, a gender-nonconforming queer person. That’s what small boobs, a short haircut, boyish jeans, and androgynous boots will get you.
If you haven’t experienced what it’s like to fall outside of societal norms, it’s easy to say you’d be able to brush it off, ignore the hate. Which I often do: I smile when I am called “sir,” politely correct the TSA officer when he calls a man over for my security pat down, and give the mother with her young son in the women’s restroom a reassuring look when he asks what I’m doing there.
What’s most upsetting is not simply being misidentified. I can understand that people just glance and see short hair and say “sir.” What’s upsetting is that it is a constant reminder that binaries rule our society. There is no space for the in-between. You have to be either male or female, gay or straight. When you don’t fit those rigid molds, you are confronted everywhere you go that there is no space for you.”
Dismantling white supremacy
There is no doubt that Clarendon is “woke,” a term frequently used in social activist circles and online to describe African-Americans who are socially conscious and actively working to fight against racism and inequality.
A sample of her tweets show, that like many Americans of all colors, she’s also been greatly impacted by the recent deaths of Sterling and Philando Castile, another black man killed by police outside of St. Paul, Minnesota hours after the murder of Sterling. The aftermath, which was streamed on Facebook Live.
“I don’t rock the boat for the sake of rocking the boat … If I’m rocking [it], it’s because I believe in something, and I’m fighting for something,” she tells NBC Outsports.
“To live my journey and speak my truth and see people care to give me a bigger platform, is just awesome. Because at the end of the day, I do it because I want to make a difference.”