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An engagement story from a 2008 USA softball Olympic medalist

With the Olympics just finishing up and reports of only 22 Olympians (in a field of approximately 11,000) officially being “out” – I called on 2008 USA softball Olympic medalist, Lauren Lappin and asked if she, as an “out” former Olympian and USSA Pride pro softball player, would help encourage our young athletes to be strong and sure that they too, can be out. Laura, who is recently engaged, told me her story of success and struggle to get to where she is in life today. We, at The L Stop, want to thank Lauren and congratulate her as we wish her all the success and happiness in the world on her newest journey in life.

LAUREN

How do you like them apples?

I have made choices in my life, both impactful as well as less significant, that have directly affected who I am today. Similar to so many of us who are gay or lesbian, hindsight paints a very clear picture that my sexuality was not one of those choices. Although, the process of accepting my truth and finally embracing it includes some of the decisions that I am most proud of. As I am sure many of you can relate, this pride is not a result of always making the “right” choices, but because when faced with some of the most difficult ones of my life, I chose to be me. The struggles that inherently come with being gay are precisely why I will never be able to wrap my head around the fact that so many people believe that we “choose” to be gay. The only choice we have in the matter is whether we will live our truth or continue to suppress it.

So, here’s our story…

Lauren Lappin – 2008 USA softball Olympic medalist

Like many typical lesbian relationships, we met through a very convoluted web of other lesbians…well, one woman in particular, but she will remain nameless. As the fairytale goes: it was love at first sight! Before you grab your barf bags, please know that it took us awhile to get to the point where we could actually live out any sort of sappy romance. And now, here we are…

After almost three years of trying to navigate a bi-coastal and then international relationship, Shannon scored a job in Chicago where I had been living since 2008. While we were only friends when she made the move, we went into “sharing” the same city with a very open mind as far as where things might lead. From that point, the evolution from connection to commitment came very naturally and was pretty much instantaneous.

By January of this year, we had discussed and fantasized plenty about a future together and one day “puttin’ a ring on it,” but neither of us knew that we were both planning a proposal. While I was busy brainstorming a perfect proposal sometime in the months to come- not to mention getting organized to live in Japan for half the year- Shannon beat me to the punch and popped the question. Thus, our engagement story…

The day before leaving the country I was running around tying up loose ends and Shannon decided to work from home. Working is a very loose term as she was really stewing over what she was about to do…

I came home from the most important of errands, a pedicure, to Shannon’s request, “Come open a gift I got for you to take to Japan!” I went into our bedroom and upon seeing a giant gift bag asked, “Am I going to be able to fit it in my suitcase?” Shannon assured me that was the reason she wanted me to open it before I finished packing. I opened the bag- she would say that I tore through it too hastily, but she should have tied it up with a bow or added more tissue paper if she needed to buy time for her rehearsed speech. After opening the bag, I discovered a gift box- again no tape or ribbon to slow my roll! I opened the box to find…

…an APPLE! I was totally ignorant and had not yet pieced together the historical significance of the apple to our relationship in terms of what was about to happen. It did not take long for me to make the connection because as I questioned, “an apple?” turning to Shannon, she was holding a ring box. We will not share the meaning of the apple but, needless to say, it led her into the sweetest combination of a sentimental and comical proposal of which I would not have changed a single syllable! It was simple, thoughtful, personal and PERFECT!

That being said, I feel so blessed to have had an opportunity to come out on somewhat of a public platform, to be able to tell my story, and hopefully to help others find the strength to accept their own story. On the other hand, my parents were not feeling so great about my public outing while it was all happening. As any good parents should, they worried about my well-being. Their biggest concern was whether I would face difficulties and discrimination as a result of telling the world. A close second would likely have been, “what are we going to tell our friends?” or “what are your grandparents going to say?” Well, my own evolution with my sexuality aside, my parents journey from what it was when I told them I was gay, through when I came out publicly at the 2008 Olympics, and up until now has given me the biggest reward of my life. My family’s willingness to go on this journey with me and embrace their lesbian daughter/sister/cousin/niece with such respect is remarkable. And I tell you all of this because I believe their love and support of my sexuality is what has put me in the position I am today: soon to marry the best person on the planet…they might argue for an even more glowing description of her. Not only do we have the support of both of our families, but we now have their wedding planning assistance as well.

Meghan: Most of us know that many of our favorite female athletes have not yet made the public statement that they are gay. I want to offer The L Stop as a personal yet official platform for each and every one of you to finally come out. There have been many of you that are gay that I have spoken to who admit they are gay, just haven’t put it out in a formal way, and I won’t ask you to (you all know who you are). But, do know, I will always be waiting for your email…it’s your story to tell and you will in due time and I’ll be here when you’re ready.

Thanks again Lauren.

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About The Athlesbian

Meg was born and raised in Chicago where she became an avid sports fan the moment she laid her eyes on her first ball. She has a knack for picking up any sport quickly as most four sport high school athletes would. Meghan played two sports in college and spent her post college years playing women’s pro football, capturing a national title, before having to quit due to injury. She still plays numerous sports in rec leagues around the city and boasts at a recent team tryout knocked out 51 consecutive push-ups in a minute. Always willing to try something new she just played in her first rugby match. Meghan currently works as a fire-medic and is finishing her Master’s degree from University of Chicago, and no, unfortunately, its not in sports reporting!

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