Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-08-21
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Chicago lesbian softball player talks about '08 Olympics
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2012-08-22

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


The London Olympics brought a whirlwind of emotions for Lauren Lappin, who lives in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood and was a silver medalist at the 2008 Games in Beijing, China.

The thing is, Lappin's sport—softball—was removed from the 2012 Summer Olympics' slate, along with baseball, becoming the first sports removed from the Olympics since polo in 1936.

"At first, [the London Games were] really hard to watch," Lappin admitted. "It's really hard to swallow, to not experience that again. It's pretty depressing, to be perfectly honest."

Softball was an Olympic sport four times, starting in 1996, and the United States won gold the first three times. Lappin's year, 2008, the top honor went to Japan, followed by the United States, and Australia captured the bronze.

Japan defeated the United States 3-1 in the 2008 finals.

The '08 Games also were a memorable ride for Lappin off the field, starting about a month before the event when The Advocate interviewed her for a story about bisexual teammate Vicky Galindo. That story revealed, for the first time publicly, that Lappin is a lesbian herself. The story went public days before the Olympic cauldron was lit in 2008.

Lappin was not planning to come out publicly at the time and didn't think it would be that big of a deal, she said.

However, at a major pre-Olympic press conference, Lappin was immediately questioned about her sexual orientation. She revealed a candid interview about her coming-out.

"I think that was the best decision I've ever made—for me personally and anyone who I could have helped along the way," Lappin said. "I took advantage of the opportunity to tell my story, [about] being a lesbian and coming to terms with my sexuality."

Lappin, now 28, was a two-position player for Stanford University during 2002-2006. She was a member of the USA National Elite Team in 2003 and 2005, and was an alternate for the U.S. Olympic team in 2004.

"I figured out that I was gay during college, like a lot of people do," Lappin said. "It was a process coming to terms with it, being OK with it. I didn't fit the stereotype, which is being shot down daily because, obviously, we come from all walks of life. Realizing late in college that, yes, I was gay was tough to come to terms with. On one hand, I was happy that I figured it out, but, on the other hand, I knew I would be facing the coming-out process and actually having to verbalize the fact that I'm gay to my parents, to my family, to friends."

Ultimately, everyone has been supportive, she said.

"My family was most concerned with my well-being, not wanting me to experience discrimination or anything like that, based on my sexuality," she said. "[My family] has been so supportive of me, and continue to be to this day. I'm really lucky.

"Professionally, in my [sport], coming to terms with my sexuality has kind of freed me, so I've been able to be the best version of myself, really focus on my training, focusing on improving my softball and just be a better spokesman for our sport. And I don't think I could do it if I was still figuring myself out, or living a hidden life."

However, after telling her story to the media before the Beijing Games started, there was still one issue—her parents.

They had known since her senior year at Stanford that she's gay; they just didn't know that she'd be sharing that information with the world.

Her parents were in Beijing at the time, and Lappin told them quickly about the interview—and the fact her sexual orientation was, likely, going to be public news, not just personal information.

"My parents definitely were not thrilled" with the timing of her public coming-out, she said.

"I was scared that the whole world was going to know, but, at the same time, I knew in my gut that it was the right thing to do," she added. "How are we ever going to progress as a society if we don't share our stories, and I just wanted people to know that I'm just another human being like everyone else; I just prefer women and I'm going to marry a woman [one day.] That doesn't have any barring on my character in my profession."

Lappin said her family now "embraces and accepts my sexuality. They are so unbelievably proud of me and my partner, where I am at in life."

Lappin and Shannon Shakespeare have known each other for five years and now been dating for about two years. Shakespeare is a lawyer and the two live together.

"Being gay at this level [of softball professionally] and with Team USA, well, all of my teammates, [those who are] gay and straight, are very accepting. We talk about my relationship like how we talk about straight teammates and their boyfriends," Lappin said.

My kind of town

Born and raised in Southern California, Lappin wanted to leave the West Coast after graduating from Stanford University. She was offered a job as a volunteer coach for the Northwestern University softball team—and she jumped at the chance, in order to gain some coaching experience.

She stayed with the Wildcats for two seasons, 2009 and 2010.

She has since "clearly fallen in love" with Chicago.

"Northwestern was a phenomenal experience," she said. "To get some [coaching] experience under some great coaches who also are really good leaders, that set the groundwork for any future I may have in coaching when I retire as a player. I loved the Northwestern softball experience; the university is exceptional, obviously. The student-athletes are very similar to the student-athletes I was used to at Stanford where academics also are a very high priority. Northwestern was, overall, a really great experience.

"I love the people of Chicago; they are very warm and welcoming. I also love the weather, though that sounds crazy. Being a California girl, I really enjoy the spring and fall [in Chicago.] Even the first couple of snowfalls are fun. I also really like all of the live music [options] and experiencing so many different types of food.

"I love the summer vibe of Chicago, with street festivals and so much more."

Lappin is now in her second season playing professionally in Japan. She also plays for the USSSA Pride in the four-team National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), the league that also features the Chicago Bandits.

"Japan has been a phenomenal, phenomenal experience. I am very lucky to have had it," said Lappin. The Japanese season spans six months, with the season split in half.

"The Japanese culture is so welcoming. They have so much respect—for themselves and life in general," she said. "We bow to the field every day at practice, at the beginning and the end, to show appreciation for the field and for each other. I've grown a whole new level of respect for the game and for the opportunities that I have gotten through the game—Japan being one of them. It's taken my game to a whole new level, getting to play competitively for nine months of the year."

What about the language barrier?

Lappin laughed. "We make it work with charades and what not," she said. "I've gained some great friends through this [Japanese] journey."

Lappin went to Japan in early March to begin training with her team in preparation for the season that started in mid-April. In early June, she returned to the United States to begin play in the NPF.

The NPF Championship Series is slated for Aug. 23-26 in Rosemont.

She returns to Japan on Aug. 27 for about two months of play abroad.

"The NPF is phenomenal, especially in its current state," Lappin said. "We've really taken the competitiveness to a new level. There are four great teams, each with solid owners. The potential for expansion next year is there, probably by two more teams. This is the most competitive league and softball experience that I've ever had—and I've played in the College World Series and in the Olympics.

"We're just trying to offer an opportunity for women now playing in college, so professional softball is a viable option. The talent in the NPF is so deep. It's anyone's game anytime you step on the field."

Lappin said being gay is not an issue in either league, though she admits she was a bit nervous about how it would be accepted in Japan. After all, she had been out for six years before she first stepped on a field in Japan.

"I didn't want to lie or hide, or live a false life," while in Japan, she said. But Lappin is out to her teammates and coaches, and Shakespeare has visited her. "They all know and have been very accepting of [my sexual orientation]," Lappin said.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Bechdel Fest 7 set for Aug. 25-28 2019-08-21 - Broken Nose Theatre ( BNT ) has announced the full line-up for Bechdel Fest 7: Momentum—the company's annual festival of new short plays ...


Gay News

Matt Herek on the state of CMSA 2019-08-21 - Matt Herek was in his first season playing in the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ). He was on a flag football ...


Gay News

Goldie Goldbloom on new book, being a queer Chasidic Jew 2019-08-21 - Chicago author and queer Chasidic Jew Goldie Goldbloom's newest book is On Division. It centers on the life of Surie Eckstein in Brooklyn, ...


Gay News

Illinois Gay Rodeo Association presents Rodeo Round Town 2019-08-20 - The Illinois Gay Rodeo Association presents Rodeo Round Town, a three-day series of events throughout Chicago, continuing the tradition of the annual Windy ...


Gay News

SAVOR Lesbian chef curates 'Play'-ful menu in Gold Coast 2019-08-20 - Located on the Division Street strip in Gold Coast are longtime establishments like The Original Mother's and Butch McGuire's. The typical frat boy-ish ...


Gay News

Leigh Gallery closing party Aug. 23 2019-08-16 - The Boystown business The Leigh Gallery, 3306 N. Halsted St., will end its 15-year run with closing party Friday, Aug. 23, 5-9 p.m. ...


Gay News

Rothaus, Swisher, Vincenz named to LGBTQ Journalists Hall of Fame 2019-08-14 - WASHINGTON, DC — Today, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists announced that longtime Miami Herald reporter Steve Rothaus, Recode co-founder Kara Swisher and ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Trans march, Danica Roem, cannabis company, lesbian tech event 2019-08-13 - A National Transgender Visibility March on Washington originally planned for March 31 will now take place Saturday, Sept. 28, The Washington Blade reported. ...


Gay News

OPERA Singer Patricia Racette talks coming out, musical feats 2019-08-11 - Patricia Racette is an internationally acclaimed operatic soprano. Over 30 years in the industry, she has been particularly renowned for performing as Puccini's ...


Gay News

Chicago Humanities Festival to host Rachel Maddow Oct. 12 2019-08-08 - The Chicago Humanities Festival will kick-off its 30th anniversary Fall Festival with MSNBC anchor and investigative reporter Rachel Maddow on Saturday, Oct. 12. ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.