Every year Outsports counts down its most-read stories of the year, a way to reflect annually on 12 months of successes and setbacks, rises and falls.
Some of the biggest sports stories in sports across the world and North America were stories that Outsports broke, including the coming out of an NFL coach and the NHL making an historic anti-LGBTQ blunder. Others were creations from Outsports staff writers and takes on some of the stories making headlines in the sports and news media.
As always, centered in Outsports’ 2023 coverage were gay, lesbian, bi and trans athletes doing some great things, from coming out publicly to winning championships. The LGBTQ community had a lot to celebrate in the sports world in 2023.
Here are the year’s most-read stories from the LGBTQ sports world (we will add to this list as we reveal more):
1. At least 96 out LGBTQ athletes competing in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, a record
Outsports’ list of the out athletes at the Women’s World Cup combined with contributor Shelby Weldon’s Gay Girls’ Guide to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be the most-read story on Outsports in 2023.
2. The NHL’s complete mishandling of Pride and Pride Tape
The NHL banned Pride Tape and Pride jerseys, in addition to issuing a disaster memo about LGBTQ and other initiatives, after a handful of players refused to wear a rainbow. Our story about the Minnesota Wild refusing to wear the jerseys was particularly popular.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars strength coach Kevin Maxen comes out in the NFL, a first in major US men’s pro sports
Kevin Maxen made huge headlines when he came out publicly in an Outsports article in July, just ahead of the NFL preseason. Since then he’s quietly gone about his business, supporting LGBTQ athletes and coaches privately and doing reportedly a good job in his role as strength coach with the Jaguars. Maxen was named Outsports’ Person of the Year.
4. The Dwight Howard saga
Four Outsports each individually were on our top-25, and collectively Howard’s acknowledgement that he has sex with men was the third most-read story across Outsports in 2023. That included Stephen A. Smith’s not-so-quiet homophobia on the topic.
5. Outsports Power 100
When Outsports started compiling a list of the 100 most powerful out LGBTQ people in American sports, the staff had no idea they’d consider over 200 names. The first Outsports Power 100 list was announced on CBS and featured people from across pro, college and high school sports, including legends like Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe and Rick Welts.
6. Tony Dungy’s continuing comments insulting the LGBTQ community
Tony Dungy, the former NFL coach and current NBC commentator, has a years-long history of attacking the LGBTQ community. He outdid himself in 2023 with a ridiculous comment about transgender children demanding litter boxes in schools. While he still won’t apologize to the LGBTQ community, we’re told NBC made him jump through some hoops to keep his job.
7. Mexico fans chant gay slur ‘puto’ at USMNT, cause CONCACAF to suspend match
Mexico fans couldn’t help from chanting a gay slur at Team USA. This has been going on for years, and match organizers finally suspended a match due to the homophobic chant. But it’s not going away anytime soon.
8. Queer Wrestling Index 200
The QWI 200 has become the premier annual honor for LGBTQ wrestlers. The brainchild of Outsports contributor and LGBTQ In The Ring host Brian Bell, the list featurs incredible out wrestlers from all over the world. Getting on the list isn’t easy, which speaks to the breadth of research Bell does in compiling the annual list.
9. NFL legend Marshawn Lynch’s gay sister led him to accept ‘Bottoms’ role
The former Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders running back, who won Super Bowl with Seattle Seahawks, says starring in the hit new movie was an ‘opportunity to correct my wrongs.’
10. Katie Meier is the out LGBT married head coach of Miami Hurricanes women’s basketball
Meier and the Hurricanes face off against Kim Mulkey in this year’s Elite Eight. Mulkey reportedly told gay athletes to stay in the closet.
11. Carl Nassib is dating Olympic swimmer Soren Dahl
NFL player Carl Nassib and Danish Olympic swimmer Soren Dahl were clearly an item on social media well before they made it official-official.
12. 29 MLB teams supported their LGBTQ fans with Pride Nights in 2023
At a time when Pride celebrations are under siege, baseball is almost unanimous is celebrating our community. Hopefully all of them go well.
13. Two college baseball rivals have become boyfriends off the field
After meeting when their teams played each other, Cole Philpott and Aiden Phipps sparked an incredible baseball romance. For their courage to life their lives openly, the two young men were named Outsports 2023 Male Heroes of the Year.
14. Sorana Cirstea should get back in the kitchen
If strict adherence to gender roles is so important to Sorana Cirstea, Shelby Weldon wholeheartedly supported the tennis player getting off the court and returning to the kitchen doing.
15. Dodgers Pride Night and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
One of the biggest LGBTQ sports sagas in years involved the Los Angeles Dodgers inviting, then uninviting, then reinviting the drag-nun group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to be honored at Pride Night. In the end, the Dodgers did the right thing, with players and umpires wearing the Pride rainbow.
16. Bob Huggins’ public comments were the most homophobic we’ve heard in sports since Tim Hardaway in 2007
Huggins knew the power of gay slurs and the potential career-ending repercussions. Inexplicably, he did it anyway.
17. West Virginia MMA coach and fighters are offering security for a drag brunch
Johnny Haught, who owns an MMA training school in the Ohio Valley, is standing up for drag queens.
18. Red Sox rookie Triston Casas rocks painted nails and helps give baseball a more inclusive image
By proudly vowing to wear nail polish on the field, Casas joins a list of baseball figures changing the stereotypically macho image of MLB players for the better.
19. Kirk Cousins supports Focus On The Family, one of America’s most anti-LGBTQ organizations
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings declined to comment on the quarterback’s appearance with one of the most anti-LGBTQ organizations in the United States.
20. Tennis star Carlos Alcaraz is the new face of Calvin Klein Underwear
The No. 1-rated player in the world is taking it all off for the iconic fashion brand.
21. Joey Bosa uses homophobic slur in responding to Eagles fan heckling him
Joey Bosa of the Chargers and a Philadelphia Eagles heckler get into it prior to the NFC Championship Game.
22. Jeffree Star and his ‘NFL boo’ should reveal his identity or shut the hell up
This ‘who dat’ social-media mystery does nothing but stroke Star’s Saturn-sized ego… and hurt gay athletes.
23. Here are 21 LGBTQ college basketball players and 57 coaches who have been out while competing
With the college basketball season is upon us, we celebrated various LGBTQ players and coaches who have inspired others.
24. Trans boxer Patricio Manuel wins first match in four years, improves to 2-0
The pioneering fighter came out firing against Hien Huynh after a four-year absence from the ring.
25. Would you ask a ‘cockocracy’ professor about your penis size? These 300 men did.
After a professor wrote about the hierarchy of penises in the locker room, he was flooded with questions and pictures. It also helped launch a new career.
Just missed the cut: Boxer wears Pride armband after opponent insinuates he is gay
Chris Eubank Jr. donned the Pride armband at a weigh-in after opponent Liam Smith suggested he was gay and then tweeted a message of inclusion.