Elena Delle Donne has announced her engagement to Amanda Clifton in a recent Vogue article (not available online) but the big question has now become whether or not that means she came out as gay.

Why? Does it really matter to the world at large whether or not the Chicago Sky’s star player and current WNBA MVP describes her sexual preference in detail to inquisitive fans? Will her coming out (or not) change the course of her Team USA’s performance during the Rio Olympics going on? I don’t think so. (To watch Team USA in Rio, see schedule below.)

While I understand that it might make a great deal of difference to some who are looking for successful human beings, particularly athletes as healthy role models, the fact is this: the question of her specific sexual preference as a coming out story is one Delle Donne has chosen not to answer. And she deserves that right to some privacy and so does her fiancée.

According to the original report by Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune and later carried by OutSports.com’s Jim Buzinski,:

“Elena divides her time between traveling with her team, the Chicago Sky, and her family’s home in the rolling green landscape of Wilmington, Delaware. She and her fiancée, Amanda Clifton, keep apartments in both Chicago and Wilmington.”

And the Huffington Post carried this from deputy director of news and analytics Cavan Sieczkowski:

“Delle Donne told reporters in Rio ahead of the 2016 Olympics that Vogue went to the home she shares with fiancee Amanda Clifton for the interview, according to ESPN, and she wanted Clifton to be a part of the experience.

‘It’s not a coming out article or anything. I’ve been with her for a very long time now, and people who are close to me know that, and that’s that,’ she said. ‘As the future keeps moving on, I don’t plan on having our relationship out in the public and all this media on it, but obviously there’s excitement right now because people see it for the first time.

‘I decided I’m not at all going to hide anything,’ she added.”

Three cheers for Delle Donne’s honesty and for her intention to keep her private life private to the degree that she can. Unfortunately, we make untold assumptions about others and feel the uncontrollable urge to assign a label when one hasn’t already been provided by the person in question.

Buzinski included this telling quote by Megan Greenwell, an ESPN editor who said the following about Delle Donne to N.Y. Magazine following Brittney Griner’s coming out in 2013:

“Contrast Griner with the No. 2 WNBA draft pick this year, Elena Delle Donne: ‘She’s super-blonde, super-thin, does not look like a classic image of a female athlete,’ Greenwell says. ‘If Elena Delle Donne was the one who said, ‘I’m gay,’ I think that would have blown people’s minds. I mean, Elena Delle Donne wore basically a cocktail dress to the WNBA draft. Brittney Griner wore a white suit chosen for her by Ellen Degeneres’s stylist.’”

Delle Donne may be comfortable in a cocktail dress but she also knows how to handle power tools. In fact, she makes custom furniture that sells online via her company, DelleDonneDesigns. Does that clinch the fact that she’s a lesbian? Or is she bisexual?

Or maybe she’s just fallen in love with her best friend and wants to spend her life with her. Maybe it’s time we simply accept people for who they are without trying to label them on our own.

If you want to watch Team USA and Elena Delle Donne in the Women’s Basketball Tournament, here are their initial match times:

  •  * U.S. vs. Senegal                    Sunday, August 7 at 8:00 a.m.
  •  * Spain vs U.S.                          Monday, August 8 at 8:00 a.m.
  •  * U.S. vs. Serbia                       Wednesday, August 10 at 11:30 a.m.
  •  * Canada vs. U.S.                     Friday, August 12 at 11:30 a.m.
  •  * China vs. U.S.                        Sunday, August 14 at 8:15 a.m.

Check your local NBC station for broadcast times in your area.


By Connie Wardman



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