Terry Gross Asks Abby Wambach If Sleeping With a Man Helped Her Figure Out the Whole Lesbian Thing

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.

Though it would be considered extremely bizarre to ask a straight woman if she tried sleeping with women to make sure she was straight, Abby Wambach doesn’t actually seem too annoyed with Terry Gross for asking about her high school boyfriend.


On Wednesday, Wambach was interviewed for Fresh Air, and Slate noted an interesting tidbit in the conversation. Most of the questions focus on Wambach’s success as a soccer player and how her career has been affected by her sexual identity. Then at one point, Gross asks:

So I want to ask you more about like comprehending your sexuality, your sexual orientation. You’d had a boyfriend in high school. You went to the prom together. You were considered, like, the jock couple of Rochester, New York. Was it helpful on Long Island to have had a boyfriend, to have had sex with a boy, so that you could know with more certainty, “no, I love women?”

Good lord. I guess many of us have had sexual experiences that help clarify what we are willing or interested in doing, and that can include identity—but this question still sucks. Wambach gave a very agreeable reply, however, with some sweet mediations on what love feels like when it’s with the right person. She replied:

Yeah. I mean, I think the person that I am … I will pretty much try anything once because I can’t have an opinion about something that I don’t know of or that I haven’t experienced. And that’s kind of the same thing that went into sorting my sexuality out, right? … I went to Catholic high school, Catholic grade school when I was younger, believing in this God that was basically telling me that the feelings that I might be having internally were sinful. I was like, “all right, well, I got to try this other life out. I got to see about it.” And I tried.

You know, I did what I was kind of, quote, unquote, “supposed to do” as a kid. And I dated the boy and I experienced the boy, and as soon as I met and started dating my first girlfriend, I then got it. I understood what I was missing all along, and this is no disrespect to my boyfriend in high school. This is just, like, more of a knowing—like I met this woman, and I was like, “oh, I get it now. This is how you’re supposed to feel.”

I remember having conversations with my friends in high school, like, “what do you think love feels like? You know, I don’t know. I think I’m in love.” And if you ever in your life say, “I think I’m in love,” you’re not, right? When you are in love, it’s a knowing. It’s a knowing like you know your own age, and you know your own family’s, like, last name. That’s what love feels like. And if you are in question of it, you probably aren’t in love, and I’m sorry to tell you that.

She also tweeted a friendly message of thanks to Gross for having her on the show, so she probably wasn’t secretly seething with resentment the whole time:


Wambach generally seems to see being a lesbian as just part of who she is, rather than a statement or cause, so that may be why she is fairly chill about tone-deaf questions. At one point, she told Gross, “I’m not the person that’s gonna stand on top of a mountain and be like, ‘I’m gay, hear me roar!’... I think it actually speaks more volumes for people to just be who they are rather than having to explain who they are.”

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin


Paranoid Android (sometimes says dumb things)

I think it’s a fair question to ask. Not all of us lesbians are gold star lesbians. I can only speak from me and my circle’s experiences but for a lot of us, that relationship with a male (no matter how far it progresses) is part of the process of knowing and understanding what feels right or realising who you are. Sexuality is messy.

I heard the full interview and I didn’t find anything odd or malicious about the question.