Two days after the World Cup finale, and barely a week after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a historic same-sex marriage ruling, many were surprised when normally quiet-on-social-media Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod tweeted she had married Houston Dash teammate Ella Masar and, with true McLeod banter, joked Masar got to keep the same initials despite changing her last name to McLeod. Later, an interview was posted by AfterEllen.comin which McLeod somewhat abruptly (and unprompted) announced they married Monday, July 6th.
Shortly after, Masar posted a tweet of her own confirming the news and both went on Houston's khou11’s news to discuss their marriage. On Tuesday, she tweeted a Facebook link that allowed fans a glimpse of their wedding.
Congratulations rolled in from across the world. Huffington Post and Cosmos picked up the news. Articles popped up from as far away as Germany and Ireland celebrating the news. Canada Soccer and the FIFA Women’s World Cup’s verified Twitter congratulated them. Even the duo’s prior team, the Chicago Red Stars, of whom Masar was the poster child for many years, publicly congratulated them. Yet the Houston Dash remained conspicuously quiet.
Fans have followed the duo from the Red Stars’ days of The Ella and Erin Show up through their World Cup adventures (and Masar being dubbed by Getty Images as a "fan" with whom McLeod celebrated with a kiss). With the struggle known as the inaugural season for the Dash, McLeod was often the only thing keeping the team afloat. Masar went into the record books for the Dash by scoring both the first goal on the road (against Boston), and the first goal at home (against her former team no less). The impact the two have made on the pitch- for Canada, for Chicago or for Houston- cannot be denied or ignored.
Yet, this time, the impact they’re making off the pitch is something that should not be ignored either.
Aside from being the first married couple on a North American team (possibly worldwide), they have both taken on the role of activist. McLeod is more vocal on the subject; she publically came out during the Sochi Winter Olympics, was vocal about Proposition 6 and donated art to the AIDS Foundation Houston event last year. Two days after her wedding, she spoke at Pride House Toronto about her coming out story, playing with the National Team and, of course, her wedding.
In her own way, Masar has become an activist as well, whether intentional or not. Over the past two years, she has continuously and graciously shared glimpses into her relationship and life with McLeod and, after coming out publicly as McLeod’s partner earlier this year, no one can argue her views on homosexuality haven't evolved, or that the way she has not tried to distance herself from past articles, is not respectable in it's own right. Her honest and emotional blogs have addressed her past views and has offered insight into the transformation that many can relate to. She’s a perfect example of how people can change, and is proud to share the story of her growth.
She has become a beacon for youth and adults alike that are struggling, or have struggled, with the confliction between their religion and their sexuality. All it takes is a quick look through the comments on her blog or Instagram to see the positive impact she is having.
The accomplishments of the McLeod duo run deeper than an Olympic Bronze Medal or record books. Their contributions on the soccer pitch are not to be overlooked either, but they are both more than soccer players. They have become a ‘power couple’ of sorts; a source of inspiration both on and off the pitch. They’re role models for today’s youth; they’re a beacon of hope for the LGBT community of all ages.