The Wall Street Journal is taking heat for putting Elena Kagan's softball photo on its front page because, gay-rights activists complain, the game is so closely associated with lesbianism that the photo read as an insinuation that the Supreme Court nominee is gay. That's set off a national discussion, according to fellow News Corp paper, the New York Post, on just how gay softball, a sport popular with both genders, really is.
“Throughout history, softball has been a focal point for lesbian women,” says Pat Griffin, author of a book on lesbians and homophobia in sports. “There's a kernel of truth to the stereotype.” When it gained popularity after WWII, it became one of the first place lesbians could go for respite from a hostile world. “It's an issue we deal with,” says the lesbian who coaches Harvard's team. “People jump to conclusions.” (Read more softball stories.)