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Olympic rugby player Nicole Heavirland comes out as gay, was hoping to be outed

Nicole Heavirland has received love and support since coming out. She is already inspiring others in her sport.

US Rugby 7s Portraits
Nicole Heavirland played rugby for Team USA at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. She’s now coming out as gay.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Nicole Heavirland has come out publicly as gay, months after competing in rugby for Team USA at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Last weekend, Heavirland posted her coming-out message on Instagram:

I tell this story to remind you that your journey is beautiful to you. Mine took 13 years to be completely in love with who I am and to be completely open to love who I want to love

This week Heavirland joins the Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast to talk about her experiences growing up, coming out and seeing all of these out athletes around her at the Summer Olympics, as Outsports tracked them collectively as Team LGBTQ.

Heavirland said she actually was hoping her name had been on Outsports’ list of out Olympians, despite her not having acknowledged it, because it would have made her coming-out easier for her.

“That article came out and I was scrolling all the way tot he rugby section and I was hoping I was on this list,” she said. “That would be easy. I’m hoping it’s just right here, Nicole Heavirland. When I saw it wasn’t there, I was like, dang it. But that would have been the easier route.”

Women’s rugby had one of the highest numbers of out athletes at the Olympics, with at least 16 out athletes including at least three of Heavirland’s teammates on Team USA.

She also talked about the different pressures female athletes have to not be LGBTQ or to stay in the closet. Since coming out, Heavirland has received tons of support.

You can listen to the conversation with Olympian Nicole Heavirland on the Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast on Megaphone, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts and many more platforms. Just search for Outsports wherever you get your podcast.

And be sure to follow Five Rings To Rule Them All on Twitter.

You can follow Nicole on Instagram and on Twitter.

Special thanks to Don Povia for the tip and connection.