Lauren Chan has accomplished a lot in her versatile career. In addition to being a former Glamour editor, the size-inclusivity advocate launched a clothing brand and became a successful plus-size model. But what’s happening this week is something she admittedly didn’t see coming: She is the newest Sports Illustrated model, and she’s celebrating by coming out in the Swimsuit Issue.
According to a press release, Chan is the first openly queer plus-size Sports Illustrated Rookie. (“Rookie” is what they call first-time Swimsuit Issue models.) But remarkably, the issue serves Chan’s announcement that she’s a lesbian — only those closest to her knew of her what she calls a “late” coming-out before this.
Chan penned an unreserved editorial for the issue called “How I Came Out, Got Divorced, and Landed in SI Swimsuit” — and it really does cover all that and more, including portions of her journey as a plus-size model and how the pandemic led her to therapy and consequent revelations.
“In my early sessions, I discovered that something in my mental code had caused me to repress my feelings, and therefore, my sexuality,” she writes. “When it became undeniable that I felt exclusively attracted to women, I knew I had to tell my husband.”
It may seem ironic to come out as a lesbian in what’s historically been considered one of the most male-gaze-y publications, but Chan sees it as the perfect opportunity to help continue moving the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in a refreshing new direction. “Here feels like the right place to celebrate my hard fought pride, relate to other folks in my position, and perhaps change some people’s view of the queer community,” she writes.