Saying, “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties," U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) star Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner in support of Sam Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the start of her match with the Seattle Reign on Sunday afternoon.
According to the Guardian, the pro soccer player said her action was "very intentional," and that she felt she had to make a point, adding "It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this."
“It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now," Rapinoe explained. "I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country."
The San Francisco quarterback has been under fire since he first sat through the Star-Spangled Banner two weeks ago, and then took a knee last Thursday during an exhibition game in San Diego where he was joined by teammate Eric Reid.
Kaepernick has defended his actions, saying “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Rapinoe's action introduced a whole new element to the controversy by bringing the fact that she is gay into the mix.
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it," she said. "It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”
Rapinoe is currently an ambassador for Athlete Ally, a charity that combats homophobia in sports.