This is the first edition of Ask a Genius, a recurring series of interviews with brilliant people. Today we're featuring Megan Rapinoe, an LGBT advocate and a genius midfielder who won a World Cup and an Olympic Gold Medal with the U.S. Soccer team. Before we get to the Q-and-A, here's an example of the 32-year-old's recent work.
On to the questions!
Describe the work you do briefly.
I am a professional women's soccer player for the U.S. women's national soccer team and the Seattle Reign.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The problem I’m trying to solve is how to best use my platform and voice for good in the world. How to maximize being a pro athlete to facilitate conversation and action around issues such as police brutality, gender equality and gay rights.
What led you to tackle this problem & not something else?
Being a gay female athlete I am not sure I had much choice. I think in some ways just being who I am and doing what I do is bucking against the norm. I am fortunate to be on such a successful and popular team in the USWNT, and I feel it's my responsibility to make a positive impact.
How does what you do help people?
Growing up I do not remember having a diverse selection of role models, and ones that were willing to talk about issues such as sexuality and equality. I think in trying to live as authentic and true to myself as possible. Others see parts of themselves in me — parts that society has not always told them are OK. I give them someone to look up to, someones who will have their back, someone who is not only like them, but in many ways, is them.
How would you spend $1 billion?
One of the first things I would do with a billion dollars would be to build as many youth homeless shelters all over the country as that billion dollars would allow. Homeless youth provide an incredible cross-section into a variety of different issues, such as sexual abuse, abuse, drug use, domestic violence, mental illness, LBGTQ and racial inequality. Often these kids are abandoned with nowhere to turn but the streets. To me, this is an unacceptable reality in our society.
What's one fact or idea you think more people should know?
The correlation between youth homelessness, drug use, sexual abuse and being LGBTQ.
What's one thing you want to accomplish in the next month? Year? Decade?
I want to volunteer more of my time. Start creating a plan for a youth shelter. Have a youth shelter built and fully functional.
Who do you think is a genius and what’s one thing you would ask them?
I would like to meet a genius that specializes in turning ideas into action, and ask them for help in the future. Possibly a Bill Gates type of philanthropist.
Do you know a genius? Are you a genius? Want them to get featured in this space? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Megan Rapinoe