clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Gay athletes don’t have to fear losing sponsors anymore

Various out pro athletes have kept and earned endorsement deals after coming out.

Team USA PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Portraits
Gus Kenworthy has a relationship with Atomic skis.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Decades ago, athletes like Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King lost endorsement deals with companies when they came out publicly as gay. Despite being two of the best athletes in the world at the time, they each suffered financially due to homophobia amongst Fortune 500 companies and other sports-apparel corporations.

Today that fear can be gone. Athletes like skier Gus Kenworthy, WNBA player Brittney Griner, MLS player Robbie Rogers and NBA layer Jason Collins have all either kept endorsement deals or attracted new ones after they came out.

Our culture has changed dramatically, now accepting LGBT people like never before. Corporations that invest in athletes — like Nike, adidas, Visa, Target and various sports-apparel companies — are embracing out athletes to demonstrate inclusion and a commitment to courage and diversity.

The fear of losing endorsement deals has been quoted for years as a reason for athletes to stay in the closet. No more.