Former Lynx player says she was bullied for being straight

Former Minnesota Lynx star Candace Wiggins, now retired, says the team and the WNBA bullied her because she’s heterosexual in a league she says is “98% gay.”

In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, Wiggins says she retired abruptly because she found the WNBA “depressing.”

“It’s not watched,” she said. “Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. … My spirit was being broken.”

She revealed plenty.

“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply.

“There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs,” Wiggins said. “The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.

“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’ “

Wiggins said the culture of the WNBA is to pressure women to act like men.

“It comes to a point where you get compared so much to the men, you come to mirror the men,’ she said. “So many people think you have to look like a man, play like a man to get respect. I was the opposite. I was proud to a be a woman, and it didn’t fit well in that culture.”

Wiggins says she forgives everyone.

[Update 7:33 pm]

The league’s commissioner refused comment.

[Update 9:33 pm;]

Players’ union president Nneka Ogwumike, released a statement.

“Our union is only as strong as our loyalty to and support for one another. What is key to that loyalty and support is our commitment to diversity and inclusion. As a union, we should and we will continue to celebrate the diversity that makes us special and lead by example. We must respect the rights of those we don’t agree with when they speak their mind. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the comments made recently by a former player or whether one has seen or experienced anything like what she has described, anything that impacts an inclusive culture should be taken seriously.”

  • Robert Moffitt

    I’m not saying the situation she describes is impossible, but color me a skeptic on this one.

    “People were deliberately trying to hurt me all of the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’

    I’m sure many rookie athletes in several professional sports could tell similar stories, but not because of their sexual identities.

  • Will

    Treat each other with respect, why are so many eager to not believe a victim?

    • The lack of a single name or instance in the accusation is a red flag. I would say it requires substantially more information to be “believed” as a matter of default. If you’re going to blame an entire league and all the players in it with a broad brush, then providing a particular name and description of events wouldn’t be terribly risky.

      • Will

        Like when the media uses unnamed sources?

        • There are certainly times when the media uses unnamed sources to protect confidentiality of the source of information. But, as you can see, that’s not the case here.

          Usually in a sourced story, there’s an allegation against specific individuals and, if it’s properly vetted, names and dates. Those people are then given a chance to rebut and present their evidence.

          98% gay? How would anyone even know that?

          A better analogy would be saying a pizza shop is a front for a child trafficking operation.

          • Will

            That statistic was meant to exaggerate for effect, don’t take it so literally. Amazing how many in the media have a double standard, are 23% of voters deplorable?

            I agree all specific facts that are reported as fact should be verified, an opinion or exaggeration for effect shouldn’t be held to that same standard.

            You know it when you see it and the media needs to step back and examine their approach to their “fact checking”.

          • Jerry

            Despite all evidence to the contrary, you are going to believe in media bias to the day you die, aren’t you?

          • Pick any number you want, then…. 5 ,, 50, 70. Use any adjective… predominantly, for example.

            The question is the same. How would you know?

            Do you know the sexual preference of everyone you work with to be able to put a proper assessment on it? I sure don’t.

          • Will

            Any outlandish number like 98% is just an exaggeration, I’d be 95% confident I would be correct on sexual preference of each person I work with because I see them with their significant others at work events.

          • Andy

            95% is outlandishly close to 98%.

          • JamieHX

            Is that like how we’re not supposed to take Trump literally, but listen to “what his heart is saying”?

          • JamieHX

            “… are 23% of voters deplorable?”
            Hmm… that sounds about right to me. :o)

          • Will

            Similar, yes, you can tell by how he says something if he’s exaggerating for effect and if he’s seriously bring out a fact. Some of his facts are flat out wrong and we need to call him on that.

          • JamieHX

            I was being facetious. Recalling a ridiculous KAConway comment.

    • MrE85

      “So many?”

  • Jaime Riotmuffin

    98% gay… haha, I wish! Would watch more often 🙂

    Sounds like confusing “bullying” with “had a bad experience.” I’m sure being straight will help make the rest of her life really hard.

  • Gary F

    Just think if she would have said this while being an active player?

  • Rob

    98% gay? //people trying to hurt you all the time//? There’s clearly some other sort of grievance going on here.

  • Kate Wulf

    I doubt that it’s coincidence that she is making these attention-seeking claims shortly before her new book comes out.

  • X.A. Smith

    Conformity in sports team? Inconceivable!

  • JamieHX

    I’m skeptical for some of the same reasons others cite here, but also because I’ve heard so many times about how supportive Lynx team members are of one another. I hear that about women’s sports teams a lot and have experienced it myself, and it’s hard for me to believe that they would act in the ways she describes.

    Also, I find it offensive and I think she’s very wrong in thinking she’s “the opposite” [of the rest of the WNBA?] in that she’s “proud to be a woman.” As though the others aren’t because they look and act in ways that don’t fit into her (apparently narrow) idea of what a woman is supposed to be.

  • slycivilian

    I think it would be worth pursuing comment from Maya Moore. She’s pretty open about her evangelical faith, and by all accounts is a tone setter for the team. Hard to square that w these comments.