Candice Wiggins, the former Stanford University basketball star who retired from the WNBA last year, claimed she was targeted for harassment during an eight-year WNBA career because she was heterosexual.
In an extensive interview with the San Diego Union Tribune, Wiggins described what she called a “very, very harmful” culture in the WNBA.
Wiggins, who recently turned 30, announced her retirement suddenly last March while considering a contract extension from the New York Liberty – her fourth WNBA team.
“I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state,” Wiggins told the Tribune. “It was a depressing state in the WNBA. It’s not watched. Our value is diminished. It can be quite hard. I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. … My spirit was being broken.”
Wiggins asserts she was targeted for harassment from the time she was drafted by Minnesota because she is heterosexual and a nationally popular figure. She claims jealousy was part of what was at the root of some of the issues. “There was a lot of jealousy and competition, and we’re all fighting for crumbs,” Wiggins said. “The way I looked, the way I played – those things contributed to the tension.”
“Me being heterosexual and straight, and being vocal in my identity as a straight woman was huge,” Wiggins said. “I would say 98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women. It was a conformist type of place. There was a whole different set of rules they (the other players) could apply.”
“People were deliberately trying to hurt me all the time. I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season. I’d never been thrown to the ground so much. The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’ “
Since the story was published, Wiggins has received some support, but has also gotten some backlash and says, “There’s nothing that I would take back. I’m not really in a position of taking things back right now, I’m going forward. I know it sounds heartless, but I don’t care. I understand what my purpose and the intent of my words are, and I’m responsible for my words. I’m not responsible for how people perceived them.”
Editor’s note: Since the publishing of this article, we had a conversation with GTHU’s own Creative Advisor, Talaya Melton who had this to lend to the conversation,
I don’t down anyone’s experience nor their feelings, so when she said she felt bullied, I’ll take it for what it’s presented as. I, too, can attest to the culture of women’s basketball being heavily influenced by gay culture and many, definitely I’d say the majority fully embrace and flirt with homosexuality. This is one of the reasons I stopped playing competitively. Many don’t understand my conversion to Christianity when it comes to being delivered from homosexuality. It was easier to say I was “bi” or “straight” than to say I am delivered from that lifestyle. My experience leads me to believe that there might be more truth to her experience than what the league may lead on.