Story at a glance
- At least 33 openly LGBTQ+ athletes will compete at the winter Olympic Games in Beijing next month, more than doubling the number of openly LGBTQ+ athletes during the 2018 Games.
- A record number of openly LGBTQ+ male athletes will compete in this year’s Olympic Games, accounting for one-third of the total of openly LGBTQ+ winter athletes.
- This year’s sum still falls short of the record-breaking 186 openly LGBTQ+ athletes who competed at the Summer Games.
At least 33 openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, pansexual and nonbinary athletes will compete at the winter Olympic Games in Beijing in February, according to an Outsports tally, more than doubling the number of openly LGBTQ+ athletes who attended the 2018 Games.
This year’s record-breaking sum is thanks in no small part to the growing number of openly LGBTQ+ male athletes, accounting for one-third of the total. In 2018, just four of the 15 openly LGBTQ+ athletes were men.
“It’s honestly a privilege to feel part of a community, and one that is pushing boundaries like no other,” British figure skater Lewis Gibson told Outsports this week. “Every four years the numbers skyrocket up and up, and it’s so great to see and so great to be a part of. The Olympics are a legacy and being part of this group of people is that as well.”
For the Brazilian skeleton rider Nicole Silveira, who only recently came out, competing as an openly LGBTQ+ athlete for the first time makes this year’s competition all the more meaningful.
“Knowing that I can step on the big stage, the Olympics, as a known LGBTQ member, and be able to bring out more visibility and help athletes be who they want to be, brings me a lot of joy,” she told Outsports. “I hope I can be that person that helps lift that weight off someone else’s shoulder.”
Earlier this month, American figure skater Timothy LeDuc became the first nonbinary athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics. Over the summer, Canadian soccer player Quinn became the first openly nonbinary and transgender athlete to win an olympic medal, and the nonbinary American skateboarder Alana Smith competed in the women’s street event.
A record-breaking 186 openly LGBTQ+ athletes competed at the Summer Games, according to Outsports, bringing home 33 medals.
READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA