Raven Saunders is one of our growing list of publicly out LGBTQ athletes headed to the Tokyo Olympics. She’s competing in shot put and track and field for Team USA. (Aug. 1 update: She won the silver medal.)
When we say “publicly out,” we mean that she is very out and very proud and committed to showing other athletes they can be out too.
When Outsports contacted Saunders after she shared our tweet about our list of out Olympians, she was grateful for the entire LGBTQ community that is committed to being visible.
“Thank you guys for your page and showing the LGBTQ is in full representation in sports,” she wrote to Outsports.
On social media she puts her identities front and center, sharing #BlackGirlMagic and pride rainbows on her Twitter bio.
Her personality also absolutely shines on social media, as she has recently weighed in on Space Jam 2 with LeBron James, shared respects to Biz Markie and asked for mailing addresses to send thank-you cards and old lifting shoes. She also weighed in on the absurd notion that, simply because she’s an Olympian in track and field, she’s suddenly a millionaire.
All the while she keeps the word “HULK” in her Twitter profile name.
That doesn’t mean it didn’t take a lot of struggle to get here. Saunders told Outsports she first came out to her mother in third grade. In sixth grade she was outed to classmates who “had found a note book of love songs I remixed about this one girl I had a crush on.”
A few years later, in ninth grade, Saunders became comfortable with who she was, she told Outsports.
Now she’s not totally comfortable with who she truly is, celebrating it with a big public persona, complete with different-colored hair and a closet of COVID masks that would put U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy to shame.
Saunders’ athletic bona fides are for real. She won multiple NCAA championships in the shot put, was second at the 2021 United States Track and Field Olympic Trials, and she finished fifth at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
She told Outsports that while competing with Ole Miss, she was completely out.