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Megan Rapinoe's Community Welcomed Her With 'Outreached Arms' When She Came Out

Megan Rapinoe, an award-winning athlete and activist, says it took her some time to realize she was gay.

"Shockingly — this is like the greatest shock of all time — I didn’t know that I was gay until I got to college," she says.

The 34-year-old soccer star, who grew up in conservative Redding, California, and attended the University of Portland, says when it all clicked, she realized what an oversight it was.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, my life can finally start in its sort of holistic sense,' " she says.

Her community, who knew her well, began to rethink the misconceptions they had about LGBTQ people, she says. Ultimately, she felt welcomed by friends and family with "outreached arms," something she acknowledges not every LGBTQ person experiences when coming out.

Now, Rapinoe is an outspoken activist for equal rights and a member of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Athlete Ally, an LGBTQ athletic advocacy group.

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On the field, Rapinoe says she isn't about to cut her career short because of her age but admits she's on the "shorter end of it than the longer end."

"Actually I feel pretty good, to be honest," she says, noting female athletes' physical careers can peak later than for men.

Rapinoe makes it clear she doesn't want to be an athlete whose career drags on. When the time comes, she'll depart fabulously.

"I have a flair for the dramatic," she says. "Hopefully I could go out in a dramatic way."

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Megan Rapinoe talks with Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Megan Rapinoe talks with Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)