"I'm gay. Megan's my girlfriend. ... These aren't secrets to people who know me," Bird says. "I don't feel like I've not lived my life. I think people have this assumption that if you're not talking about it, you must be hiding it, like it's this secret. That was never the case for me."
As for the timing of her decision to come out, Bird said the moment felt right.
"It's happening when it's happening because that's what feels right," she noted. "So even though I understand there are people who think I should have done it sooner, it wasn't right for me at the time. I have to be true to that. It's my journey."
Bird, 36, is as decorated a basketball player as the sport has seen. She won two national titles at UConn, two WNBA championships with the Seattle Storm, has collected four gold medals and made 10 All-Star appearances.
Even in her 15th season with the Storm, Bird has remained incredibly productive, averaging 10.8 points and 6.9 assists this campaign. For her career, she has averaged 12.3 points and 5.5 assists per game.
Bird told Voepel she realized she was gay during her college years at UConn and that it was a "non-issue" for her and her closest friends and family.
"Of course, I have a whole journey—everybody does in life," she said. "I think the hard part is being public about it. I don't like to be, not necessarily 'gossiped' about but the topic of conversations."
Rapinoe has been a more vocal advocate on LGBTQ and racial issues, and kneeled in solidarity and support of Colin Kaepernick. Bird, on the other hand, revealed that she's not as comfortable being as vocal.
"Megan feels really passionately about things," Bird says. "I just never felt that calling, if that's the right word. I was living my life, just not necessarily leading the charge. But I never felt that made me any less real."
She added that Rapinoe's activism wasn't a driving factor in her decision to come out, however.
"This actually has nothing to do with Megan, in terms of how free I feel to talk about it," Bird says. "This has been something I've been on the verge of doing for a long time."