WNBA player pens ‘Dear Candice’ letter

Imani Boyette, a center for the Chicago Sky of the WNBA, was a Candice Wiggins fan when she was growing up, but she is not at all happy with Wiggins’ assertion that she was bullied in her time in the league because she’s straight.

Wiggins, a former member of the Minnesota Lynx, made the comments in an interview this week with the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Boyette, who grew up in Los Angeles, says she often played at Wiggins’ high school, then says Stanford was her dream school. That’s where Wiggins played (Boyette eventually chose Texas).

“To say I looked up to you was an understatement,” Boyette writes on her blog in an open letter to Wiggins.

First, I was sad because that was your reality. I’m sorry you were bullied and felt that way during your career. Bullying is serious and no one deserves it.

I hope you know that says more about the people who chose to mistreat you than you yourself. I hope one day your love for this sport returns, even if only as a spectator. I don’t know you personally nor was I there so I can’t deny your experiences nor would I try to.

But I will defend a league I grew up with and am now a part of. Have you or did you ever reach out to the union? Did you confront these women?

Candice, I’m disappointed in you. We should be careful of who we allow to share our stories. We must be sure they not only respect the other parties but do their due diligence and only print facts. You stated that, “98% of the women in the league are gay” – that’s not only false but it’s unfair.

You retired last year, have you met all 144 of us and been privy to our private lives? In your “research” did you really find only 3 women were straight? Do you know that orientation is not binary? Do you understand what you’ve done? You’ve reinforced unfair stereotypes.

A person’s orientation is their own and their business. Now, because of your article, it is no longer out of bounds to ask WNBA players about their sexuality. Do they ask any male stars in the NBA about their sexuality? Is it even a conversation?

You said, “Nobody cares about the WNBA. Viewership is minimal. Ticket sales are very low. They give away tickets and people don’t come to the game.” And that’s simply not true. When you retired in March, you said the reason you stuck around so long and kept fighting through injury was because of the fans.

Did you know our ticket sales and viewership increased this year? Did you care to know? Your article hurt me Candice, both as your fellow WNBA player and as a little girl who looked up to you. You chose to typecast an entire league instead of speaking your peace, telling your truth.

You chose to put all of us down, fans included. How can you turn your back on an entity that gave you your career, your upcoming book, and your worldwide acclaim? I think that’s selfish.

This league is bigger than you Candice, it’s bigger than me too. This league is the largest women’s league in the world. We promote women from ALL walks of life. Yes, that includes homosexual women, heterosexual women, bisexual women, and the many other ways you can identify.

We promote women of color. Do you realize that they only talk about our sexuality because we are women? That there very well may be these feelings in men’s sports but no one mentions it because no one cares.

You see, they don’t ask male athletes about when they plan on having children or their families unless the athlete’s themselves introduce the topic. I like to believe that as a woman, I can do the same. I can play the sport I love professionally without having to involve my personal life.

I’m married, to a man, but that’s not something I feel the need to announce mainly because it is accepted. Whether you want to admit it or not, a lot of people saw that fake statistic and looked at it negatively because it says lesbians. Do you feel that way too?

I don’t want to silence you Candice. I hope we can have an open dialogue about your experiences. But next time, I hope you ask your journalist to interview someone else who was there with you.

I ask that you use real statistics. I ask that you not try to out other women. I ask that you try not to defame a league that gave you your platform, whether you like it or not. I ask that you remember your sisters, your fellow WNBA stars, the young girls coming up after you.

The WNBA is about inclusion, always has been and always will be. There is literally a woman from every walk of life in the league, which is why I love it so much. I have never experienced the bullying you spoke about, and I hope no one else ever does. Thank you for telling your truth.

With Love,

Imani Boyette