Social Media and the Self-representation of Black Queer Athletes in the Women’s National Basketball Association


This paper examines the media (mis)representations and self-representations of Black queer women athletes in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). WNBA players have found paths of resistance and self-representation through social media and their relationships with individual journalists in response to continuous misogynoir, colorism, and heteronormativity that pervades sports and sports media. Specifically, I highlight how three prominent WNBA players craft a counter-discourse about themselves, their media representations, and their treatment through their use of social media. By examining Black queer WNBA players’ use of social media and other tools of self-representation through Black queer theory, my analysis demonstrates that athletes are not only naming the discrimination that they experience within media, by brands, and by the WNBA, but also they are utilizing social media for self-representation, articulation, and community building. Social media can be a liberatory space, yet these athletes also understand it to be a highly surveilled space that reinforces misogynoir and heteronormativity which lead them to opt for selective engagement. These choices are driven by the economic strain they face and the potential gain if they can present themselves in ways that produce more economic opportunities. I conclude that athletes have sought out platforms for self-representation and have created communal spaces that facilitate players being represented in more nuanced ways.


Kendall Rallins
Student, PhD Student , The University of California, Santa Barbara, California, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Media Marketing and Identity


Misogynoir, Heteronormativity, WNBA, Self-representation, Social media, Counter-narrative, Queer