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LGBTQ Athletes Talk About Coming Out

Inspiring Message From Gay Athletes

Coming out in Sports

Out Gay Athletes

 

Famous LGBTQ Athletes

 

Martina Navratilova - US Tennis Player

Greg Louganis - US Olympic Swimmer

Billie Jean King - US Tennis Player

Michael Sam - US NFL Football Player

Sheryl Swoopes - US WNBA Basketball Player

Esera Tuaolo - US NFL Football Player

Brian Boitano – US Olympic Skater

John Amaechi - US NBA Basketball Player

Jason Collins - US NBA Basketball Player

 

 

Caitlyn Jenner - US Olympic Runner

Glenn Burke - US MLB Baseball Player

Diana Nyad - US Swimmer

Ian Roberts - US Rugby Player

Orlando Cruz - Puerto Rican Boxer

Tom Daily - British Olympic Diver

Abby Wamback – US Olympic Soccer Player

Belle Brockhoff - US Olympic Snowboarder

Will Sheridan - US College Basketball Player

Elena Delle Donne – US Olympic Basketball Player

Tom Waddell – US Olympic Decathlete, Founder of Gay Games

 

 

Proud to Play

LGBTQ Athletes Talk About Coming Out

Inspiring Message From Gay Athletes

Coming out in Sports

Out Gay Athletes

27 Athletes Who Have Come Out of the Closet

Is America Ready for Openly Gay Athletes?

Out Sports

List of LGBTQ Athletes

 

 

Rio Olympics and LGBTQ Athletes

 

Unlike the Sochi Olympic Games (2014), where gay rights were called into question over anti-gay laws enacted by Russia’s government, the Rio Olympic Games (2016) were a lot more tolerant by comparison. It wasn’t flawless in that regard; for example, homophobic slurs were shouted by some in the stands at a US women’s soccer match as the games opened. But, overall, there were encouraging signs of progress on the inclusion front.

 

Top Ten LGBT Moments From Rio Olympics

Rio Games: Queerest Olympics Ever

Out at the Rio Olympics

Rio Olympics Shows Support for LGBT Rights & LGBT Athletes

LGBT Athletes Competing at Rio Olympics

Advocate: Olympic Spirit Includes LGBT People This Time

Meet the LGBT Athletes at the Rio Olympics

Rio Olympics: Most Open LGBT Athletes Ever

 

“That’s what I hope for and I feel like our society is going in the right direction,” said US women’s basketball star Elena Delle Donne, who came out and announced her engagement last week. “That’s not a story. It’s normal.”  The new normal, perhaps.

 

Gay marriage is legal in Brazil, though tolerance seems far from universal. One gay rights group says that on average since 2013, about one LGBTQ person each day has been killed in Brazil. The organization called Grupo Gay da Bahia calls Brazil “the world champion of crimes motivated by homophobia and transphobia.”

 

 

 “I know all the prejudice that exists in society against homosexuals,” said 2012 Olympic beach volleyball bronze medalist Larissa Franca of Brazil, who competed again in Rio. “We don’t choose our feelings, let alone control them.”  At these Olympics, there seems to be far more cheering than prejudice.”

 

Whether it was a transgender model appearing in the athletes’ parade at the opening ceremony, two men kissing during their leg of the torch relay along Copacabana Beach or the British women’s field hockey team including two teammates who are married (an Olympic first) it was an Olympic event unlike any other for the LGBTQ community.

 

Rachelle Bruni Gay Swim Star from Italy

First Trans Man on US Olympic Team

Marriage Proposal at Rio Olympics

US Soccer Star Megan Rapinoe Talks About Being a Gay Athlete

Chris Mosier: US Trans Olympic Swimmer

Isadore Cerullo: Rugby Player Gets Engaged to Her Girlfriend at Rio Olympics

Johnny Weir at Rio Olympics

 

 

 

The Washington Blade list of openly gay and lesbian 2016 Olympic athletes:

 

Nicola Adams (Great Britain, boxing)

Tom Bosworth (Great Britain, race walk)

Dutee Chand (India, track & field)

Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (Netherlands, field hockey)

Lisa Dahlkvist (Sweden, soccer)

Katie Duncan (New Zealand, soccer)

Nilla Fisher (Sweden, soccer)

Larissa França (Brazil, beach volleyball)

Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian)

Brittney Griner (US, basketball)

Carl Hester (Great Britain, equestrian)

Michelle Heyman (Australia, soccer)

Stephanie Labbe  (Canada, soccer)

Alexandra Lacrabère (France, handball)

Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden, soccer)

Ari-Pekka Liukkonen (Finland, swimming)

Hans Peter Minderhoud (Netherlands, equestrian)

Ian Matos (Brazil, diving)

Angel McCoughtry (US, basketball)

Nadine Müller (Germany, discus)

Marie-Eve Nault (Canada, soccer)

Ashley Nee (US, kayak whitewater slalom)

Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey

Mayssa Pessoa (Brazil, handball)

Megan Rapinoe (US, soccer)

Carolina Seger (Sweden, soccer)

Caster Semenya (South Africa, track & field)

Melissa Tancredi (Canada, soccer)

Susannah Townsend (Great Britian, field hockey)

Sunette Stella Viljoen (South Africa, javelin)

Marieke van der Wal (Netherlands, handball)

Spencer Wilton (Great Britain, equestrian)

 

Caitlyn Jenner Honored

 

Caitlyn Jenner (the former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner) was presented with the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPN Awards event.  Presented by US women's soccer player Abby Wambach, who first introduced a touching montage of Caitlyn's journey, Jenner walked onto the stage and was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd as the entire Kardashian and Jenner brood supported in the audience.

 

 

Caitlyn revealed she had never met another transgender person before the last few months, and expressed the importance in accepting and respecting everyone for who they are. "My plea to you tonight is to join me in making this one of your issues as well. Learn as much as you can about another person."  She continued, "I trained hard. I competed hard. And for this, people respected me. But this transition was harder on me than anything I could have imagined. And that's the case for so many others besides me. For that reason alone, trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect." 

 

The 65-year-old thanked fellow transgender people in the industry and in the spotlight, like Laverne Cox and Chaz Bono.  "It is an honor to have the word ‘courage' associated with my life, but on this night, another word comes to mind, and that is ‘fortunate.' I owe a lot to sports. It showed me the world. It's given me an identity.  If you wanna call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead. Because the reality is I can take it. But for the thousands of kids out there coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn't have to take it.  So for the people out there wondering what this is all about, whether its about courage or controversy or publicity, it's about what happens from here. It's not just about one person. It's about thousands of people. It's not just about me. It's about all of us accepting one another. We're all different. It's not a bad thing. It's a good thing."

 

Caitlyn Jenner Honored at 2015 ESPY Event

Soccer Superstar Abby Wambach Comes Out & Gets Married
ESPN's Brief History of Gay Athletes
Robbie Rogers: Openly Gay Soccer Player

 

Lesbian Tennis Superstar Martina Navratilova Honored

 

Tennis legend and LGBTQ icon Martina Navratilova was honored in September 2010 during the opening ceremonies of the US Tennis Open in New York. The honor, for “those who dream, succeed and inspire,” according to organizers, is fitting for Navratilova who has battled "nasty curveballs" in her personal and professional life but always come out a winner. “It’s the positive attitude that gets you through life and it is a choice,” she said. “I’ve always been too much of an optimist where I sort of ignore bad stuff until it sits right there in front of me. I’m saying nothing is going to go wrong and, when it does, that’s when I deal with it. That’s how I’ve gotten through life. I think it’s done me pretty well.” 

 

 

The 53-year-old Czech native knows something about grit and attitude. Early in 2010, she was diagnosed with noninvasive breast cancer and underwent surgery and radiation only to win the Wimbledon ladies' invitation doubles in June 2010.  Martina also spoke to the crowd about publicly coming out of the closet as a lesbian the year she made it to her first US Open final. “In 1981, I came out as a gay woman. That was not a good thing to do back then. There were a lot of doors that were shut in my face because of that, but you know what, I could still play tennis, no matter what.”

 

On December 15, 2014, Martina married her longtime partner Julia Lemigova at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City. Their marriage was seen very much as a public statement. During that time, Martina was 58, and Julia was 42. At the US Open, Martina proposed her longtime girlfriend Julia for the wedding by going down on one knee while on camera. Their wedding was attended by Julia’s two daughters Victoria Lemigova and Emma Lemigova.

 

Martina Navratilova Marries Julia Lemigova

Tennis Icon Martina Navratilova Gets Married

People Magazine: Martina Navatilova Wedding

 

Michael Sam is First Openly Gay NFL Athlete

 

Michael Sam made history on May 10, 2014 as the St. Louis Rams made him the 249th overall choice in the 2014 NFL draft.  The Missouri defensive end became the first openly gay football player to be drafted in league history and seeks to be the first openly gay athlete ever to play in the NFL. The Rams used the 249th overall selection on Michael Sam, giving the first openly gay player the opportunity to begin his NFL career in surroundings that should be comfortable. Shortly after learning of his selection by phone, surrounded by friends and family, a visibly emotional Sam turned to his boyfriend and kissed him.

 

 

Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from the University of Missouri, announced in February 2014 that he is gay. Sam stated publicly what his teammates and coaches have known since August 2013: "I am an openly, proud gay man." 

 

ESPN: Michael Sam Overwhelmed by Pick

Huff Post: Michael Sam and the Great Facebook Kiss-In

NY Daily News: Michael Sam and His Boyfriend

CNN: Michael Sam, NFL Draft, and Kissing Boyfriend on TV

Huff Post: Michael Sam Kisses Boyfriend on Network TV

 

Olympian Brian Boitano Comes Out

 

In December 2013, at the start of the Sochi Olympic Games, US gold-medal-winning figure skater Brian Boitano came out as gay. His announcement came amidst great public dissatisfaction with the Russian government, who had recently been very outspoken in its opposition to LGBTQ rights and very aggressive with its anti-gay laws. Many protests and boycotts have been staged to express outrage at Russia, the host of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.  Brian Boitano, a member of the US delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics, in announcing he is gay, made him the third gay member of the delegation that traveled to Russia.

 

 

 The 50-year-old Boitano, who has deflected questions about his sexuality in the past, said that “being gay is just one part of who I am.”  President Obama named Boitano to the delegation along with Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, two openly lesbian star athletes.  “I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am,” Boitano said in a statement published by USA Today.

 

“First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.”  The very makeup of the delegation appeared to send a clear message about the administration's dissatisfaction with the Russian government on a range of foreign policy and human rights issues, including the treatment of gays.

 

Proud to Play

LGBTQ Athletes Talk About Coming Out

Inspiring Message From Gay Athletes

Coming out in Sports

Out Gay Athletes

 

Basketball Athlete Jason Collins Comes Out

 

In May 2013, Sports Illustrated featured a front cover story about Jason Collins' public coming out story.  Jason Collins, center for the Washington Wizards states, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay. I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, I'm different. If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand. My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons."

 

 

Jason Collins is an 11-year NBA veteran basketball star. He has played for 6 professional teams and appeared in two NBA Finals. Currently he plays for the Washington Wizards. Just before that, he played for the Boston Celtics. For more than a decade as a professional athlete, he had remained silent about his sexuality, worried about what teammates, opponents, fans (the world, really) might think. So after having "endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie," Collins became the first active player in one of the four major US pro sports leagues to come out as gay.

 

“I don’t know what to tell you," he explains. "You get so used to wearing a mask. You get used to telling half-truths, telling lies, telling stories about making up fictitious girlfriends or whatever it is. In the end, it’s all about making this step forward in my life and being completely honest and up front and genuine. It just goes back to anybody who tries to keep some secret. The weight just gets heavier and heavier and heavier. It starts taking its toll on you mentally and physically to the point where you just don’t sleep well.”

 

Jason Collins: NBA Athlete Comes Out

Yahoo News: NBA Player Jason Collins Breaks Barrier
Washington Post: Response to Jason Collins' Coming Out Has Been Positive
Chicago Tribune: Collins' Coming Out and Gay Acceptance

Jason Collins' Coming Out is Opening Doors for People

 

LGBTQ Ally Brendon Ayanbedejo 

 

Brendon Ayanbadejo is an African-American football linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. He is also the first straight football player to come out as a strong, outspoken LGBTQ ally and supporter.

 

When expressing his views on gay marriage and LGBTQ rights, he says, "It's a matter of fairness. Maybe I am a man ahead of my time. However, looking at the former restrictions on human rights in our country starting with slavery, women not being able to vote, blacks being counted as two thirds of a human, segregation, no gays in the military all have gone by the wayside.”

 

 

In 2009, as he questioned the prohibition on same sex marriage, he said, “I think we will look back in 10, 20, 30 years and be amazed that gays and lesbians did not have the same rights as everyone else. How did this ever happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Discrimination against any group of people is barbaric." 

 

He has voiced his opinions regarding LGBTQ rights in several magazine interviews, including ESPN Magazine and Men's Journal. His video in support of same-sex marriage has been heavily circulated, especially in his home state of Maryland.  Others have said of Brendon, "This is newsworthy in the sense that pro athletes normally do not even discuss issues relating to gay or lesbians, especially in the world of pro football. Right or wrong, it simply doesn't fit the macho image of tough, rugged football players. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his stance on the issue, you have to admire Ayanbadejo's courage for speaking out."

 

Trans Basketball Player Gabrielle Lugwig

 

In December 2012, the women's basketball team at Mission College expected the bleachers to be full and the hecklers ready when its newest player made her home court debut.  In the days leading up to the game, people had plenty to say about 6-foot-6-inch tall, 220-pound Gabrielle Ludwig, who joined the Lady Saints as a mid-season walk-on and became, according to advocates, the first transsexual to play college hoops as both a man and a woman.  Coach Corey Cafferata worried the outside noise was getting to his players, particularly the 50-year-old Ludwig.

 

 

A pair of ESPN radio hosts had laughed at her looks, referring to her as "it." And online threats and anonymous calls prompted the two-year college to assign the Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm a safer parking space next to the gym and two police guards.  Last week, Ludwig gathered her 10 teammates at practice and offered to quit. This was their time to shine, she told the group of 18-20-year-olds. She didn't want to be a distraction for the team. The other women said if Ludwig, whom they nicknamed "Big Sexy" and "Princess," didn't play, they wouldn't either.  Didn't she know she was the glue holding the team together?  "Then let's just play basketball," she replied solemnly, looking each teammate in the eye.  A lifelong basketball lover, Ludwig has been helping coach and working out with the Saints since the beginning of the school year, but she only received conference clearance to compete in November 2012. She took the court as No. 42, scoring three points on four free throws in about seven minutes of play. During her first home game, she scored eight points in 11 minutes, and not a single heckle.  "I got exactly what I always wanted, just to fit in and be normal like everyone else," Ludwig said.

 

 

Openly Gay Olympic Athletes at Summer Games

 

The number of openly gay and lesbian athletes at the 2012 London Summer Olympics surpassed the totals for Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. There were 21 openly gay and lesbian London Olympians, two coaches and two gay Paralympians. This compares with 11 in Athens and 10 in Beijing, showing some progress in athletes being public about their sexual orientation, but still a low number.

 

I Found Love at the Sochi Olympics

Brian Boitano Talks About Olympic Games in Sochi

Sochi Olympics: Reading the Pictures

Gay Propaganda Laws: Olympians Fight Back

Gay Rights Activists at Sochi Olympics

How Sochi Became the Gay Olympics

 

 

The Outsports list of openly gay and lesbian 2012 Olympic athletes:

 

Marilyn Agliotti  (Netherlands, field hockey)

Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling)

Seimone Augustus (US, basketball)

Natalie Cook (Australia, beach volleyball)

Lisa Dahlkvist (Sweden, soccer)

Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (Netherlands, field hockey)

Imke Duplitzer  (Germany, fencing) 

Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian)

Jessica Harrison (France, triathlon)

Carl Hester (Britain, equestrian)

Alexandra Lacrabère (France, handball)

Jessica Landström (Sweden, soccer)

Hedvig Lindahl  (Sweden, soccer)

Matthew Mitcham (Australia, diving)

Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey)

Carole Péon (France, triathlon)

Mayssa Pessoa (Brazil, handball)

Megan Rapinoe (US, soccer)

Lisa Raymond (US, doubles tennis)

Rikke Skov (Denmark, handball)

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Germany, cycling)

 

Péon and Harrison are a couple. In addition, Pia Sundhage, US women’s soccer head coach, is openly gay, as is Hope Powell, Great Britain's women’s soccer coach. The gay Paralympians are Lee Pearson, a male British equestrian athlete, and Claire Harvey, a member of Britain’s women’s volleyball team.

 

Out Gay Athletes

27 Athletes Who Have Come Out of the Closet

Is America Ready for Openly Gay Athletes?

Out Sports

List of LGBTQ Athletes

 

WNBA Star Sheryl Swoopes Comes Out

 

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese made the following statement as three-time WNBA MVP player and Olympic gold medalist Sheryl Swoopes came out in October 2005, in an interview with ESPN's The Magazine:

 

"Sheryl Swoopes is a real hero on and off the court. Being open and honest about your life is an act of bravery.  This MVP player and Olympic gold medalist is helping to start real conversations about openness, honesty and authenticity.  We commend her for this brave step that will mean so much to her gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight supportive fans and peers."

 

 

 

In an interview with The Magazine, Swoopes said, "Some people might say my coming out after just winning the MVP award is heroic, and I understand that. And I know there are going to be some negative things said, too. But it doesn't change who I am. I can't help who I fall in love with. No one can."

 

Kye Allums Transgender Basketball Player

 

George Washington University 21-year old junior Kye Allums is transgender and originally played women's basketball as a woman. But he now plays the role of a brother, not a sister, to his teammates.  Everything is the same when he takes to the court, except that Allums is now identified as a man, becoming the first openly transgender player in NCAA Division I basketball. "This means a lot," Allums said in a statement. "I didn't choose to be born in this body and feel the way I do."

 

The 5 foot 11 inch guard from Hugo, Minnesota, said the university has been supportive of his decision. But he will not be permitted to undergo testosterone therapy as long as he is competing.  A report last month from the National Center on Lesbian Rights and the Women's Sports Foundation provided guidance on the matter, saying that transgender student athletes "should be allowed to participate in any gender-segregated sports activity so long as that athlete's use of hormone therapy, if any, is consistent with the national governing body's existing policies on banned medications." 

 

 

Robert Chernak, senior vice provost at George Washington, said the university is fully accepting of Allums decision to live as a male student.  "Kye has informed the university that he will not begin any medical or drug protocols while a student-athlete," Chernak said. "Kye will continue to be a member of the women's basketball team. 

 

Allums grew up as a tomboy and later tried behaving and dressing the way teenage girls do, according to an interview with OutSports, an online gay sports site.  "I decided to transition, that is change my name and pronouns because it bothered me to hide who I am, and I am trying to help myself and others to be who they are," Allums said in his statement. In his sophomore year, he began telling people he was a man trapped in a woman's body. "I told my teammates first, and they, including my coaches, have supported me," he said. "My teammates have embraced me as the big brother of the team. They have been my family, and I love them all."

 

 

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