Megan Rapinoe & Sue Bird’s Relationship Timeline Is Literally Power Couple Goals
If you're just getting into the iconic, four-time Women's World Cup-winning United States Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT), I'll spare you the condescending ,"I liked them before they were cool" and just welcome you to the party. If you aren't already ugly crying about these empowered queer femme athletes who are taking over the world, a brief look at Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird’s relationship timeline will leave you on the floor in a pile of your own happy tears — I promise.
Brief refresher: 34-year-old Megan Rapinoe is a co-captain of the USWNT, a captain of the Seattle Reign, and an Olympic gold medalist. Her boo, 38-year-old Sue Bird is a three-time WNBA champion from the Seattle Storm and four-time Olympic gold medalist. If that's not impressive enough for you, they're also incredibly politically active. The two have openly advocated for equal pay and LGBTQIA+ rights, and have spoken out against police brutality.
In a classic girl-meets-girl, girl-falls-in-love-with-girl, girls-continue-to-win-both-national-and-international-sport-championships (plural) fashion, Rapinoe and Bird have a found a love that's both a goal and a slam dunk, all in one.
July 2, 2012: Rapinoe Publicly Comes Out
In a July 2019 interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Rapinoe laughed about not realizing she was gay until college. "It’s just so embarrassing because I’m just very gay," Rapinoe told Cooper. “I was, like, 'Why didn’t anyone tell me?!'" Although Rapinoe reportedly came out to her friends and family in college, she didn't come out to the public until her 2012 interview with Out magazine, before the London Olympics.
“I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” Rapinoe told Out. “I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A. For the record: I am gay."
2015: Rapinoe Shoots Her Shot With Bird
Megan Rapinoe has never been afraid to go for gold (literally — she's been in the Olympics twice) and if you've seen her nail a penalty kick, you know how well she does under pressure. In the 2019 World Cup, Rapinoe won the Golden Boot for being the top scorer. So, it's no wonder that when she first met Sue Bird at a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) press event for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Rapinoe shot her shot and made the first move.
In a 2018 interview with Seattle Refined, the pair both admitted that Rapinoe's opening line didn't initially land.
"I was in uniform but my hair was down and in full makeup and and she joked, 'Are you getting ready for a game?' I was like 'Yeaaahhh,'" Bird told Seattle Refined.
Although Rapinoe walked away feeling defeated, she later told Oprah magazine that she and Bird's agents worked together, and she went to some of Bird's games during the Olympics in Rio (like, same?).
July 22, 2016: Rapinoe Slides (Read: Marches) Into Bird's DMs
TBH, the only relatable part of this athletic fairytale is that Rapinoe slid into Bird's DMs. Apart from their sheer athletic genius, the pair have both been incredibly public about their activism. In 2016, a number of WNBA teams and players wore black shirts and jerseys at their games in support of Black Lives Matter. Bird and her team, the Seattle Storm, were very vocal on social media about their support of the movement. Rapinoe, who was one of the first white athletes to kneel during the national anthem, contacted Bird, commending the WNBA's protests.
During a 2017 interview during the ESPNW Women and Sports Summit, Bird affectionately joked about Rapinoe sliding into her DMs, and went on to say that the messaging eventually led to texting, which eventually led to the pair hanging in Seattle (the city where they both live and play professional sports, like the professional icons they are).
July 20, 2017: Bird Publicly Comes Out And The Two DTR
If you've ever felt intimidated to start the DTR conversation, you are totally not alone. Of course, if you were dating Sue Bird, you'd have the opportunity to define your relationship in front of a major news outlet — no biggie. In a 2017 interview with ESPN, Bird both came out publicly and confirmed that she and Rapinoe had been dating since fall of 2016.
"I'm gay — Megan's my girlfriend," Bird told ESPN. "These aren't secrets to people who know me. I think people have this assumption that if you're not talking about it, you must be hiding it, like it's this secret. That was never the case for me."
Rapinoe and Bird's relationship is iconic and inspirational for a ton of reasons, but one of my personal faves is that the couple dated for nearly a year before Bird publicly came out. Coming out looks different for everyone, and all relationships are totally real and valid, regardless of how public they are.
Later in the interview, Bird expressed that she came out when she was ready to. "I understand there are people who think I should have done it sooner, it wasn't right for me at the time," Bird said. "I have to be true to that. It's my journey."
June 25, 2018: Rapinoe And Bird Bare It All
Shortly after confirming their love to the world, Bird and Rapinoe really bared it all —literally. As the first openly gay couple to be on the cover of ESPN's "Body Issue," Bird and Rapinoe rocked an iconic nude photoshoot.
"Not only are we female athletes, but we're dating as well," Rapinoe told ESPN. "It's kind of badass."
Along with the incredible photos, Bird and Rapinoe spoke about the importance of the visibility and normalization of queer relationships.
"I think having a gay couple on [the cover], hopefully it just becomes the norm, Bird told ESPN. "You want it to not be an issue. You want it to just be, oh, another couple is on there."
July 2, 2019: Bird Writes The Greatest Love Letter Of All Time
In the days before the 2019 World Cup, Rapinoe told a reporter from Eight by Eight magazine that if USA won, she would not be celebrating in D.C. (the literal quote is: "Psssh, I'm not going to the f*cking White House.") This statement inspired a series of tweets by President Donald Trump instructing Rapinoe to "win before she talks." Trump's tweets then inspired Bird to write, IMHO, the greatest love letter of all time. "So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend" is an op-ed for The Players Tribune, defending Rapinoe, commending the USWNT, and listing everything she loves about her girlfriend.
"But on Friday? It was like for this one, perfect, fleeting, uncomplicated day…I was everyone," Bird wrote. "I was happy. I was crazy. I was proud. I was pretending to know about soccer. I was a little overwhelmed. I was pretty damn American. And I was in love with Megan Rapinoe."
I'm not crying, you're crying. (I am crying.)
July 7, 2019: USA Wins, Rapinoe And Bird Publicly Kiss
After fearlessly leading her team to a second World Cup victory, Rapinoe found Bird in the stands for a little action of their own. Celebrating the victory with a sweet smooch, the couple engaged in some post-game PDA in front of the 58,000 World Cup spectators. FYI: Rapinoe and Bird weren't the only USWNT queer lovebirds celebrating (recently engaged teammates Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger are iconic too), but their post-game kiss deserved a trophy of its own.
In conclusion: Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird are Olympic gold medalists. They also happen to be women, who happen to be gay, who happened to have found each other, thus creating possibly the greatest sporty love story of all time. All I can say is, when it comes to the game of love, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird can't stop winning.