Flag bearers holding their country’s flag during the Parade of Nations at the Beijing Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony have the special honor of being the primary representative of their nation for the event.

At these Olympics, Brittany Bowe is the only publicly out LGBTQ athlete to be given such an honor in 2022.

Bowe was actually selected second by the Team USA athletes, but Elena Meyers Taylor — who was selected first — tested positive for COVID. Given the strict regulations at these Olympics, Taylor lost the honor and now has to isolate.

Still, it’s a powerful statement about where American sports are today, when a publicly out LGBTQ athlete, who posts photos of her girlfriend regularly, is selected to represent the United States. Bowe doesn’t give many interviews about the topic, but she isn’t shy on Instagram.

Bowe is one of the favorites to win gold in the women’s 1000-meter. That competition is Feb. 17, and Bowe will be competing in a couple other events as well.

There are likely other LGBTQ athletes who were selected as flag bearers, yet Outsports adheres to a policy of recognizing only LGBTQ athletes who are clearly publicly out, as we respect the needs and wishes of each athlete.

In 2018, legendary speed skater Ireen Wust carried the Netherlands flag in the Closing Ceremony.

While not LGBTQ herself, Loena Hendrickx will be a flag bearer for Belgium. She is the sister of gay Olympic figure skater Jorik Hendrickx, who is now her coach.

This report done in conjunction with LGBT Olympic history Tony Scupham-Bilton.