A record number of out LGBTQ athletes are heading to Tokyo, and naturally, that means several Olympic couples will be making the trip together.
We’ve seen same-sex couples compete on the same Olympic team before. Back in 2016, Helen Richardson-Walsh and Kate Richardson-Walsh of Great Britain became the first married couple to accomplish the feat, and won gold.
The Danish badminton team of Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytte also competed in Rio while coupled, and took home silver medals.
This year, we’ve counted three couples who will be on the same team, and it’s possible there are even more. If we’ve missed any, please let us know!
Megan Jones and Celia Quansah (Team Great Britain)
These two ruggers and teammates never explicitly announced their relationship. Instead, they just started sharing pictures of each other on Instagram, and the response was incredible.
In a recent interview with BBC Sport, they said the reaction has been gratifying.
“There was never a thing of like, ‘We need to vocalize coming out,’” said Jones. “What we’re about is just being authentic and being true to who we are. You get heterosexual couples posting photos of each other on Instagram and social media. That’s all we’re doing: sharing our life on Instagram.”
As we know, LGBTQ couples sharing their lives on Instagram carries more significance than garnering “likes” and compliments. It’s another way to be visible, and help LGBTQ people feel like they’re less alone.
“If we can just help one person feel more confident and feel like they can be themselves, it just makes you want to do it more,” Quansah said.
Edward Gal and Hans Peter Minderhoud (Team Netherlands)
This will be the second time these two gay partners will compete together in equestrian for the Netherlands in pursuit of Olympic gold. They were on the same team in Rio, and finished fourth.
Together, they won a team dressage bronze medal at the 2014 World Championships, and each have their own Olympic medal: silver for Minderhoud in 2008 and bronze for Gal in 2012.
Our Cyd Zeigler recently profiled Gal and Minderhoud, who are proudly out about their relationship.
Minderhoud says competing together makes both of them better. “Competitions are a way of life and it is so much fun if you are with someone who precisely understands that and knows what you are doing, dedicating all your time to horses,” he said.
Sarah Jones and Leah Wilkinson (Team Great Britain)
These field hockey players have been public as a couple for eight years, which they attribute to the inclusive culture of their sport.
“Growing up in the hockey world, I was around a lot of gay women,” said Wilkinson, via Team GB’s website. “We shouldn’t say we’re fortunate, but you hear really sad stories about people who aren’t accepted. We’re lucky to have hockey, where there is such a thriving LGBT community.”
Currently engaged, Jones and Wilkinson say they can’t wait to experience the Tokyo Games together. Still, they would like to hold off on comparisons to Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh, who won gold for Team GB at the Summer Games five years ago.
They just want to be themselves. Thankfully, they live in a country that allows them to do just that.
“We talk about role models a lot, but sometimes you just want to be a normal couple,” Wilkinson said. “You don’t want to be a role model 24/7, you don’t want to have to make a statement when you go to the shops, or do photoshoots for magazines. Sometimes you want to just live your life, and get on with it.”
Today, Leah represents Wales for the 158th time. No other welsh sportsperson player ♀️or ♂️has ever reached this milestone. She also happens to have 158 bruises and scars to show for it. Leah, you truly have no equal. Congratulations #arwres #leah158 pic.twitter.com/DExJAtCDh9— Sarah Jones (@sarahjones8888) June 1, 2019
More Olympic couples
Anissa Urtez and Amanda Chidester: The two Olympic softball players are engaged to marry, and can’t wait to square off in Tokyo. Urtez plays for Team Mexico, while Chidester represents Team USA.
Georgia Simmerling and Stephanie Labbe: Both members of this happy couple represent Team Canada, but play different sports. Simmerling will compete in cycling, while Labbe is part of Canada’s national soccer team.
Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe: Of course, we save the best for last. Bird and Rapinoe are each looking to win gold once again. They are the ultimate LGBTQ power couple, and we’re thrilled they represent Team USA!