Glory Johnson tells “Cosmo” her side of the story

In a new interview with Cosmopolitan, Glory Johnson talks about the last year of her life, one that has been widely covered in the media and documented on social media for fans and voyeurs alike to discuss. The 25-year-old WNBA player became infamous after her public relationship with fellow athlete Brittney Griner went from blissful to destructive in a short amount of time.


What’s frustrating about the Cosmo piece is the off-putting tone surrounding Brittney’s motivations. As Brittney is an out lesbian, the writer intimates that she was almost predatory of Glory, who had not been in a relationship with a woman prior (bolding my own):

Johnson and Griner connected at a basketball camp in Las Vegas in 2013. Johnson noticed that Griner — drafted first overall that year by the Phoenix Mercury — found excuses to hang around her. One night, when a group of friends went to see Cirque du Soleil, Griner made her move, sitting next to Johnson and putting her arm around her.

Ordinarily, Johnson would have brushed off such a move from a woman, she says, but on this night, she went with it. With the buzz from a round of tall cocktails and the acrobats flying in the dark, the evening felt “pretty romantic,” she says. “I wasn’t thinking about her being a female. She was just somebody who was showing me a really, really good time.”

More drinks flowed after the show, and Griner escorted Johnson to her hotel room in the wee hours. In the room, things got interesting. “It was really awkward because what do you do when you’ve never been in this situation with a female before?” Johnson says. Griner, deep-voiced with dreadlocks and size-17 feet to anchor her lofty frame, put Johnson at ease with her swagger. “We finally laid down and were about to go to sleep. Of course, there was a little bit more that happened,” Johnson says. “As I was getting more and more comfortable, more and more was happening.”

This kind of storytelling is not only offensive, it’s just unnecessary. Cosmo has been doing a much better job of being queer-inclusive in the recent past, but this profile alleges that Brittney somehow tricked Glory into sleeping with her; that she sought her out and had to make Glory feel “at ease” and “comfortable” enough to go along with her plan to be sexual. If this is what Glory relayed, then they should let Glory do the talking, because this writing is dripping with homophobia, and I’d really like to assume it’s not the writer’s nor the magazine’s intent.

griner-gloryvia Instagram

Glory says she identifies as straight (“Not a lot of people understand it. They wanted me to be a lesbian who converted from being straight.”) but fell for Brittney, the human being. And after a few months of dating, Brittney popped the question in front of their friends. (Weirdly, the writer notes Brittney “dressed up in a bow tie.” Yes, women wear bow ties!) Glory said her tears were not of joy, but of “boohooing.” And the cameras and people made her feel she had to say yes.

I am not doubting Glory’s feelings or fears. Being proposed to can be a scary, unsettling thing. It’s cause for a huge life change, and if you are surprised in that moment, it can be a huge shock. But after accepting the proposal, Glory said it “was something she wanted,” despite complaints of Brittney’s wanting “her constant companionship,” something she calls excessive. There were long distance issues, trust issues and fights. But the young couple wanted to get married, buy a house and start a family, and Glory tells Cosmo that they agreed she should sit out a season of the WNBA to get pregnant via in-vitro fertilization. (“They connected with a doctor in Phoenix and picked a sperm donor — a blond, blue-eyed man, chosen by Griner, says Johnson.”)

It wasn’t long after (April of last year) that the domestic dispute happened, a fight that began at Lowe’s over measuring tape. Glory alleges Brittney “grabbed the back of Johnson’s neck and threw her head down” and then “hurled a glass dog bowl” at her. And then she says she thought Brittney was going to grab the gun she allegedly kept in the house. Brittney nor her reps or lawyers would comment on any of this to Cosmo, and Glory mentions that the WNBA has left out any conversation surrounding a gun in its discussions on the case thus far.

And then they were married in May, chalking the fight up to bad decision-making and hot tempers. And in June, an announcement of the pregnancy. And a day later, Brittney filed for an annulment. (It was denied. They will have to divorce.) Since then, they have both made claims about the other’s infidelities (mostly regarding text messages with exes) and disagreements over who put pressure on the other to get married or pregnant. 

From Brittney’s public apology in an interview with ESPNbrittney-griner

Glory is now, Cosmo says, “in a financial fix. She makes half-pay while on leave from the WNBA and will make no pay overseas or from endorsements while off the court. Meanwhile, she says she is stuck with bills for the IVF, wedding, and furniture for the Phoenix home, among other expenses. A judge denied a request from Johnson for temporary spousal support, but she could potentially file for child support.” She gave birth prematurely at five months, but the baby is doing well considering.

Domestic violence is a very real issue in our community, to be sure. Brittney and Glory have both received punishment legally and professionally (Brittney, specifically, had to go to domestic violence counseling and was suspended for seven games by the WNBA and had to sit out of the beginning of USA Training Camp). Both have made public apologies and statements, asking for forgiveness and support.

There is no excuse for violence. There will never be any reason that anger should escalate to the point where you or your partner should be doing anything physical to one another in that way. But as I’ve written on AfterEllen before, there is a certain amount of compassion we must have for these two individuals in this unfortunate situation. It could have been avoidable, and surely everyone involved both directly and indirectly wishes it had been.

Recently, I received an email asking me to stop writing about Brittney Griner on the site. It was after after I included a video of her best plays this season posted by the WNBA in one of my Morning Brew. An excerpt from that email:

I love your website but I have a HUGE problem with you giving any space to Brittney Griner.  She is a known abuser and just because she is a woman doesn’t mean you can excuse her behaviour.  Also, just because she is a lesbian doesn’t mean that her sexuality should trump her violent side.  I never email websites but I feel that I must speak out about this.  There just seems to be a double standard when it comes to woman on woman abuse.  It seems as though it’s treated as less serious than man on woman abuse. 

You should not be giving her any time on your website, period.  That goes for her ex-wife as well.  They should not be celebrated.  

I want to make it clear that neither AfterEllen nor I are celebrating what happened with Brittney and Glory. Their behavior is definitely inexcusable, and every time I go to include something about one of them on the site, I take careful consideration because of this very real issue. I don’t feel anyone’s sexuality ever “trumps” anything else about them, and I would never advocate for abuse.

I had to make an editorial decision and what I’ve come to is this: Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson made some terrible decisions and they are being held accountable for them. We will never see either of them in the same light we once did, celebrating them as heroes in their field and an enviable couple. But in this case, I find that these young women should not be forever seen as untouchable and vilified after they are taking steps to atone for their wrongdoings. This is similar to Chamique Holdsclaw, who also had a violent altercation with an ex based on her mental health issues, something that also afflicts Brittney Griner. These are not excuses—this is real life.

I choose to believe that Brittney and Glory can move on from there terrible situation having learned from their mistakes. They should not be defined by their ill-advised decisions, but they will be by most people and the media. This is not us forgiving and forgetting, but attempting to support both of them equally as imperfect humans who have to get on with their lives and become better, stronger people like the rest of us do every day. 

That being said, don’t make me eat my words, Brittney and Glory. I believe in you.