Hey! I’m another openly queer athlete competing in the Olympics, if you want your numbers up a bit.
Hi there! You can definitely add me. Thank you for doing this. It’s amazing to see the representation.
I wanted to add a few Canadian rugby sevens like myself and three teammates.
You can put me on the list!
Hi, I’m a bisexual Olympian. My friends at home ask me to tell y’all so you can count me.
I identify as non-binary and am on the ace spectrum.
Hi. You can add me to your list of out athletes in Tokyo.
When we unveiled our list of out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and non-binary Olympic athletes about two weeks ago, we had 121 names. Since then we have added another 51 (at this count), many of them tips from readers. That has grown the list by more than 40%. The 51 new athletes almost equals the 56 total LGBTQ athletes in Rio.
Several LGBTQ+ athletes wound up on the list in an unprecedented way — they contacted us directly and asked to be put on.
It’s hard for me to believe, but we have been compiling a list of out athletes at every Olympics — Summer and Winter — since 2000 (there were seven that year). We’ve never had an athlete, let alone several, contact us while the Games were going on to say, “please add me.” On the contrary, we’ve had to remove a few names in the past we knew were LGBTQ, but they (or their agent) contended they weren’t out.
In addition, athletes already on the list, like judoka Tessie Savelkouls of the Netherlands, gave us several other athletes from their sport. Since we have fairly high bar for inclusion — a media interview or the athlete obviously living an out life on social media — we have not added some names even when a teammate asked us to, and there’s no doubt our list would be close to 200 if we added probables. (There is one female soccer player a bunch of people have written us about, but we’re still not ready to put her on.)
I know our total is less than 2% of all Olympians and agree with this CNN article that there are still limits to inclusion, especially the scarcity of out male athletes. But to more than triple the number from Rio in just five years shows it’s no longer automatically stigmatizing to be out and proud.
I think silver medal swimmer Erica Sullivan (1,500 meters) summed it up best after making the Olympic team:
“For the girls, gays, and theys (and anyone else who doesn’t feel represented in the sport). Beyond blessed to able to wear the Team USA cap one more time. Thank you to everyone in my corner who has managed to try to make me a functioning human being the last few years. I won’t let the communities that I represent down. Hope to make you guys proud <3.”
Progress comes slowly in this arena but is inexorably moving forward. People want on the list because they feel empowered to speak up for who they really are. The willingness to be included reflects a growing self-acceptance of LGBTQ athletes, who want the world to know their truth and also want to be part of a list that is a piece of sports history.