Story at a glance

  • LGBTQ+ representation in sports is growing as athletes fight back against discrimination and stigma.
  • More than 160 openly LGBTQ+ athletes are competing during the Tokyo Olympics, smashing a global record.
  • A new analysis found at least 27 different countries will be represented by at least one publicly LGBTQ+ athlete in 30 sports, including the first trans Olympians.

If the openly LGBTQ+ athletes at the Tokyo Olympics were a country, that nation would currently be ranked 12th place at the Tokyo Olympics, according to Outsports, which is tracking their medal count. 

“Being able to compete with the best in the world as my most authentic self at the biggest international multi-sport games shows how far we’ve come on inclusion in sport. I’m hoping that by competing at these Games I can show the LGBTQ community that we do belong and we can achieve anything we put our minds to,” Canadian swimmer Markus Thormeyer, who came out ahead of the 2016 Olympics, told Outsports.

The count, compiled with help from LGBTQ+ historian Tony Scupham-Bilton, doesn't include Paralympians or LGBTQ+ coaches and trainers and could be even higher, considering that it only includes those athletes who have publicly identified themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community. 


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

OLYMPIC GYMNASTS FIGHT SEXUALIZATION WITH UNITARDS

OLYMPICS BROADCASTER APOLOGIZES FOR ‘INEXCUSABLE’ IMAGES OF MANY COUNTRIES

OLYMPICS SUDDENLY REVERSES BAN ON SHOWING ATHLETES IN RACIAL PROTESTS

IRISH GYMNAST TESTS OLYMPICS’ ‘ANTI-SEX’ BEDS


Still, a record-setting 168 members of the LGBTQ+ community in Tokyo more than doubled the 2016 count and totals more openly LGBTQ+ athletes than all other Summer Olympics combined, representing 27 countries in 26 sports. In 2012, nearly half of the LGBTQ+ athletes won an Olympic medal, a medal count higher than every country that criminalizes gay sex

“Growing up in a small French town in Quebec, I didn’t know or even know of a single LGBTQ person or athlete until I was older,” Elissa Alarie, a Canadian rugby player, told Outsports. “I hope the increased visibility can give young people a sentiment of belonging and encourage communities to be inclusive and welcoming.”


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


The U.S. leads the way with 30 openly LGBTQ+ athletes, followed by Canada and Britain, with 16 and 15 competitors respectively, with soccer featuring the most openly LGBTQ+ athletes.

Canadian women’s soccer player Quinn, New Zealand's weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, U.S. skateboarder Alana Smith and U.S. women's BMX freestyle reserve cyclist Chelsea Wolfe are among the first openly transgender athletes to compete in an Olympics. 

The LGBTQ+ count would have been one higher with American runner Sha'carri Richardson, who was suspended after testing positive for marijuana following the recent death of her biological mother. 


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

CARL NASSIB IS THE FIRST ACTIVE NFL PLAYER TO COME OUT AS GAY

BURGER KING DECLARES WAR ON CHICK-FIL-A OVER LGBTQ+ RIGHTS AND CHICKEN SANDWICHES

WISCONSIN COUPLE ORDERED TO TAKE DOWN PRIDE FLAG FIND BRILLIANT SOLUTION

‘KEEP YOUR PRIDE,’ ACTIVISTS TELL COMPANIES DONATING TO ANTI-LGBTQ+ CAUSES

IN HONOR OF PRIDE MONTH, GOOGLE CELEBRATES LGBTQ+ ACTIVIST FRANK KAMENY


 

Published on Jul 27, 2021