De­tails

GA Voice - - Georgianews -

What was it like com­ing to At­lanta from In­di­anapo­lis? How were you able to grow as a player?

It’s a big city, so that’s been a re­ally big dif­fer­ence com­ing from In­di­ana. At­lanta’s huge and it’s ac­tu­ally one of the places I’d never vis­ited. I played some in the WNBA against At­lanta, but I’d never been here on my own.

The style of bas­ket­ball that At­lanta plays is re­ally up-tempo and I re­ally like it. We’re re­ally a more de­fen­sive-ori­ented team. We want to get a lot of shots up. It’s a dif­fer­ent style of shots than In­di­ana, which was more grid­ded out de­fen­sively and of­fen­sively.

I play the point guard, which I think is the hard­est po­si­tion to play. I think I’m not be­ing bi­ased — I think a lot of peo­ple would agree. It’s the per­son who usu­ally gets blamed for ev­ery­thing and has to con­trol the pace and the tempo of the game. … You’re like, “I’m be­ing guarded too and try­ing to do all these things at once.” You’re just kind of a gen­eral floor leader and it’s a po­si­tion

June 9, 2017

Out bas­ket­ball star Layshia Claren­don just signed a new three-year con­tract to play for the At­lanta Dream. (Photo cour­tesy At­lanta Dream) you have to have a lot of poise to be good at.

Out­side of bas­ket­ball, the di­ver­sity and the cul­ture and the food is amaz­ing.

So your sec­ond sea­son just started. What are you most ex­cited about?

I was re­ally ex­cited to come to camp and [be] set­tled. Fi­nally get­ting off the rookie con­tract was nice. It was nice to kind of come back and not have the stress of, “Am I go­ing to be traded again?” I could take a deep breath and know what was com­ing, and I know my team­mates re­ally well. The coaches and the staff re­ally be­lieve in me and I’m a lot ex­cited to be a leader on the team this year.

Now that you’re in Hot­lanta, how have you been ac­tive in the LGBT com­mu­nity here?

I’m just get­ting my feet wet with At­lanta. Get­ting traded here last year was re­ally dif­fi­cult. We had the Pride game last year, but we didn’t do a ton of events around it. I’ve talked with some of the Pride or­ga­ni­za­tions in At­lanta to see where I can get in­volved and get con­nected. So far, it’s try­ing to find my foot­ing.

The Dream isn’t the only At­lanta team with a his­tory of host­ing Pride nights — the Hawks had a Unity Night last fall and the Braves have one this month. What do you think about the in­creased show of sup­port from pro­fes­sional teams to their LGBT fans?

I think it’s amaz­ing. I think, es­pe­cially for the men’s side to start do­ing it — the women have of­ten­times led the move­ment and have been more ac­cept­ing — to see the MLB get on board and the NBA start to get on board is re­ally im­por­tant, be­cause it mat­ters on At­lanta Dream Pride Night Fri­day, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. Philips Arena www.dream.wnba.com/2017-dream­pro­mo­tional-sched­ule/ both sides of the gen­der spec­trum.

Hope­fully we can start to break down a lot of those bar­ri­ers and ho­mo­pho­bia that ex­ist in sports.

How re­cep­tive do you think the WNBA is to ac­cept­ing out ath­letes?

I think it de­pends on when you ask that ques­tion. I think that to­day, they’re do­ing a good job.

We have a new pres­i­dent with Lisa Bor­ders, and we’re do­ing a much bet­ter job at be­ing more in­clu­sive over­all. I think that’s more re­flec­tive of so­ci­ety as well, and we’re mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion. His­tor­i­cally, it’s been re­ally hard.

What was the process like for you com­ing out as an ath­lete?

I was pretty out at Cal, when I went to Berke­ley. That’s a pretty easy place to be out. It’s the hip­pie, peace-and-love Mecca.

As do a lot of peo­ple, I came out in lay­ers. It’s not al­ways like this one-time thing where you come out and every­body knows. A lot of peo­ple come out to dif­fer­ent peo­ple in their lives. I came out to my brother first, then my sis­ter be­fore my par­ents; then my mom and dad. He re­ally strug­gled with it. Once I was out to my fam­ily, that was the most dif­fi­cult part.

It’s hard. I would say to make sure that you have a safe place to do it, be­cause some­times the LGBT com­mu­nity peo­ple can be kind of pushy. It’s not al­ways safe to [come out] if your home life is threat­ened or if your par­ents are go­ing to kick you out or if there’s a threat of phys­i­cal vi­o­lence. Do it on your own time.

My other ad­vice would just be, you’re not alone. That’s why I’m a big role model and ad­vo­cate. I’m here. I’m alive. I’m out, and I’m suc­cess­ful, and you can be too. If they do come out, whether they choose to or not, there’s peo­ple here fight­ing for them.

Do you have any ad­vice for younger LGBT ath­letes, who may be strug­gling with the de­ci­sion to come out?

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