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Winners and losers of the year in LGBTQ sports

As 2021 begins, here’s a look back at the big Outsports stories of 2020, including the last week of the year.

Shelby Weldon

Every Saturday last year, I reviewed the big Outsports stories of the week and ranked them as winners or losers. The tradition continues this year beginning with this week’s list, followed by the top 20 of 2020.

Winner: U.S. pro rugby player Devin Ibañez comes out as gay

Devin Ibañez carrying his boyfriend, Fergus Wade.
Devin Ibañez carrying his boyfriend, Fergus Wade.
Thatgayrugger via Instagram

Devin Ibañez comes out as a gay player in professional rugby and hopes to inspires others in a similar situation.

Winners: Gay male hockey players are coming out in droves, and changing the sport’s culture

Many gay male hockey players and officials came out on Outsports this year. Together, they’re making the sport’s atavistic culture more inclusive.

Winner: Out wrestler Jordan Blade defines 2020 by family and pro wrestling firsts

Jordan Blade Eel O’Neal
Jordan Blade.
JayLee Photography @JayLeeAC

The family that rolls together holds on forever.

Winners: QWI 100 — The year’s best LGBTQ pro wrestlers 1-100

effy parrow cassandro sonny kiss jamie senegal big gay brunch
Effy, Parrow, Cassandro, Sonny Kiss, Jamie Senegal, Big Gay Brunch.
Robert Starks-Bellamy

Here is the complete chronicle of the top 100 LGBTQ pro wrestlers of 2020.

Winners: Tennis couple Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen celebrate Christmas by getting engaged

After taking their relationship public in 2018, the Belgian tennis stars announce their engagement on social media.

Winners: The Outsports Awards for 2020

Rob Kearney, Yulimar Rojas, Quinn, Katie Sowers, Lindsay Hecox, Natasha Cloud, Kirk Walker.
Shelby Weldon

Outsports named nine honorees in 2020, adding two new categories to recognize greater diversity and an inspiring moment.

Winner: Outsports Person of the Year — Katie Sowers

Sowers made her mark on NFL history while being an advocate and role model for LGBTQ people in sports.

Winner: Outsports Male Hero of the Year — Kirk Walker

Since coming out as gay in 2007, the softball coach has been a role model and leading advocate for LGBTQ people in sports. Also nominated: rugger Verity Smith.

Winner: Outsports Female Hero of the Year — Natasha Cloud

Natasha Cloud of the Washington Mystics Shelby Weldon/Rob Carr/Getty Images

The WNBA champion opted out of the WNBA bubble, and made an indelible impact on athlete activism. Our other honoree is an out athlete who became a doctor.

Winner: Outsports Female Athlete of the Year — Yulimar Rojas

The LGBTQ triple jumper set a world record and is the first Venezuelan to be named World Athletics Female Athlete of the Year. Sue Bird and Nyla Rose are our other honorees.

Winner: Outsports Male Athlete of the Year — Rob Kearney

Rob Kearney is pound-for-pound the world’s strongest man, and proudly, openly gay. Also nominated: out wrestler Anthony Bowens.

Loser: Outsports Asshole of the Year — World Rugby

Shelby Weldon/Pascal le Segretain/World Rugby/Getty Images

This year’s dishonor for doing the most harm to LGBTQ sports goes to the governing body for the sport of international rugby, awarded in this case for banning transgender women athletes. The ADF takes second place.

Winner: Outsports Moment of the Year — San Diego Loyal forfeit match over gay slur

When out gay player Collin Martin was called a gay slur, Landon Donovan and players walked off the pitch. Another big moment: a video featuring NFL players.

Winner: Outsports Transgender Athlete Advocate of the Year —Lindsay Hecox

Lindsay Hecox is a runner at Boise State
Lindsay Hecox is a runner at Boise State
Shelby Weldon/Angie Smith/Washington Post

This new award recognizes a trans athlete standing up for the community and the right to play sports: Lindsay Hecox. Mitch Harrison was also nominated.

Winner: Outsports Non-Binary Athlete of the Year — Quinn

Quinn came out as non-binary transgender in September 2020. The WNBA’s Layshia Clarendon is our other honoree.

Winner: Here’s a great way to start 2021 — Come out

It’s a new year! Unfortunately, Some of 2020’s worst problems followed us into 2021, like the dearth of out pro male athletes. A New Year’s message from the managing editor.

The Top 20 Winners and Losers of 2020

  1. Winner: Fallon Fox is still the bravest athlete in history
  2. Loser: Margaret Court piles on from the pulpit
  3. Winner: 49ers’ Katie Sowers first woman and first openly gay coach in Super Bowl history
  4. Losers: Tokyo Olympics officially postponed until 2021
  5. Winner: Our tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  6. Winner: ‘I’m gay’: College hockey player came out to two teams with a simple statement
  7. Loser: Thom Brennaman resigns his position as Reds play-by-play man
  8. Winners: Zaya Wade makes her red carpet debut alongside her famous folks
  9. Losers: WNBA players’ living conditions at ‘The Bubble’
  10. Winners: LGBT athletes express outrage over George Floyd’s death: ‘Which one of us is next?’
  11. Winner: Mystics guard Natasha Cloud: ‘Your silence is a knee on my neck.’
  12. Winners: These two boyfriends in Minneapolis are raising money and buying supplies for protesters and the needy
  13. Winners: Players made history by not playing.
  14. Loser: British boxer ‘apologizes’ after getting sacked for homophobic and transphobic TikTok
  15. Winners: Athletes Remember Congressman John Lewis
  16. Losers: Why did HBO’s ‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’ spike story on trans student athletes?
  17. Winners: LGBT athletes celebrate Supreme Court decision: ‘Thank you so much, Aimee Stephens’
  18. Winner: How support from gay softball teammates carried Gerald Bostock through historic Supreme Court win
  19. Losers: World Rugby sidesteps scrum and issues new ‘transgender guidelines’ that recommend a ban
  20. Winner: NBC election analyst Steve Kornacki is openly gay and a big sports fan

That’s all for this week! I’ll bring you another list of winners and losers next Saturday. Got a name I missed, or want to challenge my choices? Comment here or on Facebook or Instagram, tweet at us, message me via any social media, or just plain email me at Thanks!