A Christian soccer player quit her dream job on the United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT) last year because, apparently, God told her to protest their rainbow-lettered jerseys supporting LGBT Pride month.
Jaelene Hinkle, a former Texas Tech star and current North Carolina Courage defender, withdrew from the national team last year just two weeks after U.S. Soccer announced the rainbow jerseys. The timing was odd, and media speculated that Hinkle was motivated by anti-gay bias, but that was only conjecture in the past.
But Hinkle confirmed in an interview with The 700 Club this week that it was God who told her to leave the team.
Lindsay Gibbs of ThinkProgress reports:
“I felt so convicted in my spirit, that it was not my job to wear this jersey,” Hinkle said in that interview. “And I gave myself 3 days to just seek and pray and determine what he was asking me to do in this situation.”
“I’m essentially giving up the one dream little girls dream about their whole lives, and I’m saying no to it,” Hinkle said. “It was very disappointing. I think that’s where the peace trumps the disappointment, because I knew in my spirit that I was doing the right thing. I knew I was being obedient, and just because you’re obedient doesn’t make it easy.”
As ThinkProgress points out, Hinkle’s protest seems like an empty gesture. She was completely fine for years competing in women’s soccer, which has had a public and consistent relationship supporting the LGBTQ+ community and equal rights. It was only when her uniform said what the fans and organization had been saying that she couldn’t handle it.
Multiple members of the USWNT — including Megan Rapinoe, Ashlyn Harris, and retired star Abby Wambach — are members of the queer community, and, as writer Katelyn Best wrote in OutSports, “the women’s national team fanbase is among the gayest in sports.”
In fact, at most games in the National Women’s Soccer League, the pro league in which Hinkle competes for the Courage, fans prominently display rainbow flags in the stands.
Hinkle plays with and against members of the LGBTQ community on a daily basis in professional soccer, and LGBTQ fans pay the money that allows her to play the sport she loves professionally. Wearing a Pride jersey for two friendlies is basically an affectionate acknowledgement of a vibrant part of the sport’s fanbase…
I’m tempted to call this a publicity grab; maybe now that her soccer career is over, she’s hoping to become an analyst for the ever-growing Christian Broadcasting Network. But even if her concerns are legitimate, her explanation isn’t. No one was asking her to violate her beliefs or promote marriage equality against her will. They were simply asking her to wear a uniform celebrating equal rights and the very existence of LGBT+ people.
Yet that was enough for her to take a stand (that wasn’t courageous) and close out her 15 minutes of fame.