For a long while, the sports world was a very hostile environment for LGBTQ+ athletes. There was the misconception that, for example, an American football player can’t be a good player if he is part of the LGBTQ+ community. This is now changing, and the sports world is becoming more inclusive.
A great example of this is the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that were called the "Rainbow Olympics." With at least 186 LGBTQ+ athletes and the Paralympics with at least 36, this was a showcase that the world is changing. Another proof is that the 2020 Olympics were the first time several transgender or non-binary competed.
Especially male athletes part of the LGTBQ+ community is facing significant barriers - cultural and professional. That is due to the masculine perception of a player in a particular sport, making it even less welcoming for gay athletes. The risk of being criticized and not accepted was and still is the primary concern of many players - male, female, transgender, or others. Coming-out for them might have great consequences to their careers, and overcoming that requires a lot of bravery.
Do you know the feeling of not being able to watch your favorite team or athlete playing somewhere abroad, and the game is not played on any of your TV channels? If you are a real fan, you will try to find a way to still catch it by checking multiple streaming sites. We all know that it can be risky with some scratchy ones, but we are so consumed by the excitement and the need to know if the team or player we are supporting will win that we ignore this. Believing and supporting an athlete should not depend on their sexual orientation or gender, but only on how they perform in their sport. Support them by watching each of their games on a number of safe free sports streaming sites. They were brave enough to expose themselves in front of you, so show them your support by not missing a game!
Here are a couple of stories about athletes and their coming-out stories.
Sazzy Boatright, Pro Wrestling Rookie
Sazzy Boatright announced during the pandemic that she is part of the queer community. In a sport like pro wrestling, being an LGTBQ+ person is still very hard. This sport is still assumed to be for heterosexuals, but Sazzy says that now she is living her best life. She came out even before her debut match and indeed made people talk. For her, feeling comfortable in her skin and being open with the public positively affected her career. Read more here.
Luke Prokop, Hockey Player
In July 2021, Luke officially came out as a gay male. He said that he is proud of who he is, and it has been a long journey for him, but he couldn’t be happier with his decision. In the third round of the National Hockey League Draft in 2020, Prokop was selected by the Nashville Predators. He believes that his sexual orientation shouldn’t affect his career. Since he was a kid, he dreamed of being an NHL player, and now he has the chance to do so while being himself.
Collin Lillie, College Gymnast
Collin shared that his teammates gave him the space and time to figure everything out, but they were the ones to celebrate him above all once he came out. He grew up in Denton, Texas, and he started gymnastics class when he was 4. He loved it from the start. On the contrary of many other sports, there is a direct correlation in people’s minds between being a male gymnast and being gay. In his early teenage years, Collin's concerns were the unwillingness to become part of the stereotype. When he got into the college gymnastics team, he was extremely happy. Lillie can’t name a specific moment when he came-out, but he can say that his teammates supported him along the way.
Chris McLeod, MMA Coach, and a Champion Wrestler
For years Chris fought his sexuality. He didn’t share his secret with even one person, and he was committed to keeping it that way. He wanted to be a wrestler from a young age, and his sexuality might have been an issue on his way to success. After an extraordinary career as a wrestler and an MMA coach and becoming an amazing dad, he decided that it was time for him to reconcile who he is. He opened up to family and friends first. He received support not only from them but from former teammates, colleague athletes, and coaches.
Those are just four stories, but there are countless more out there. The athletes being ready and brave enough to come out deserve admiration, and their stories deserve to be heard. Check out more of them here.
The evolution of the sports world
Many heterosexual athletes have shown their support to their LGBTQ+ colleagues. Amongst them are Harry Kane and Manuel Neuer, who wore rainbow-colored captain’s armbands. Formula 1 players like Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton also made public tier support for the LGBTQ+ community. Among the many other names are Connor Barwin (Eagles LB), Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets Forward), (Denver Nuggets Forward), Michael Strahan (New York Giants End), and others.
Many sports are becoming more inclusive by the day. Not only fellow players but also the public accepts and supports the athletes who are being ready and brave enough to come out. The stigma that you should be heterosexual to be good in most sports is lifted following the broader shift in social opinion. Maybe more coming-out stories will be shared soon, and the sports world will be even more diverse and inclusive.