Rayan Dutra is the first Brazilian male trampoline gymnast to qualify for an Olympic Games. | Ricardo Bufolin @rbufolin / CBG

Soaring and somersaulting, twisting and tucking, Rayan Dutra adores the feeling of pure freedom that trampoline gymnastics provides.

He’s been bouncing in his home city of Belo Horizonte since the age of 11. Now he’s preparing to represent Brazil at the Paris 2024 Olympics, having recently sealed a history-making qualification.

“Ever since I found this sport, all I wanted to do as a kid was jump on a trampoline. Now it’s my job, my life,” he tells Outsports, his medals hanging behind him, proudly on display.

“It’s so exciting to even think that I’m going to the Olympics!”

He’s beaming with excitement. Dutra is the first man from his country to ever secure a Games berth in trampoline (as hosts for Rio 2016, Brazil were handed their spot) and his federation has already confirmed that he will be selected for Paris.

The 22-year-old is a rising star in his sport in every sense. He recently won a silver medal at the Pan American Games in Santiago and his profile is rocketing thanks to his TikTok account, which has more than 700,000 followers.

He uses his other second name, Castro, on social media which is where he gets creative, using tools and edits to make his movements even more mesmerizing. His videos have already attracted 11 million likes and he’s part of a collective of creators.

Dutra expresses himself on Instagram too, through his passion for fashion and the occasional flash of flesh (all within the community guidelines, of course).

With his mustache and toned physique, he’s totally at ease with his visibility.

“As a bisexual man, I don’t think I’ve ever hidden myself,” he says as his cat, Agora, wanders across to spend some time with him. Neither are shy to crave a little attention.

Bullies didn’t bring him down

Under the bright lights of the Bercy Arena in Paris, with cameras from around the globe following every gymnast, Dutra is going to be in his element.

He will embrace that, not just for himself, but for his discipline, his country and for Team LGBTQ too.

“Trampoline is not massive in the media, so having a big platform like that to show my sport is crazy,” he says.

“It’s soccer that is the most huge here of course but honestly, it’s not a sport I like that much.” He laughs, knowing that such a comment could be considered outrageous by some in his homeland.

“I know, I know, I’m a Brazilian — but I just always preferred gymnastics.”

Dutra secured his place at Paris 2024 through rankings points | Ricardo Bufolin @rbufolin / CBG

Growing up, that wasn’t always easy. “When you’re a little more feminine than the other boys, the bullying starts in schools,” Dutra says. “It wasn’t that much for me, but it was present in my life.”

However, after being welcomed into the highly regarded Minas Tenis Clube, he found his space to be comfortable in sport. Officials came to his school to identify talent and they recognized early on that they might have unearthed a gem.

Dutra’s potential to excel in competition was confirmed at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, when he finished fifth in his first major senior event at the age of 17.

As for so many others, he had more time to hone his social media skills in the following years when restrictions limited his time at the gym.

He accepts he’s slightly addicted, but he thinks about the purpose behind his posts as well. “I love everything about it, the way I can express myself and reach other people and get them to know my sport as well,” he says.

Dutra then burst back onto the scene in 2021, finishing seventh in the synchro final at his first World Championships and then taking individual gold at the Junior Pan Am Games.

A few months’ lay-off due to back surgery proved to be only a bump in the road towards Paris.

He became a national champion last year; won individual silver and synchro bronze at the Pan Am Games in Santiago; competed at the World Championships in Birmingham, U.K.; and met his ranking points target at last month’s World Cup event in Cottbus, Germany.

“I’m going to the Olympics to compete first of all and everything that comes from that is a bonus,” Dutra said.

Yet that bonus is not a throwaway concern. He wants to help make an impact, through sharing his experiences of being bi, LGBTQ human rights, and why visibility matters.

Rayan Dutra with his silver medal from the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile | Ricardo Bufolin @rbufolin / CBG

‘Tom Daley is an inspiration’

“Being a bisexual out man at the Olympics, there haven’t been a lot of athletes who are doing this,” he said.

“I’m very fortunate to have parents who stood by me every step of the way. My sister is LGBTQ too and she’s been a huge role model to me.”

Excelling in his sport proved to be something of a shield against homophobia and biphobia.

“I had a lot of great times, I think because I was really good at sport. Not a lot of my colleagues at school were,” Dutra says.

“I guess they viewed me as, ‘Oh my god, he’s really good! I’ve got to respect him a little more!’ In my first year in gymnastics, I was South American champion. I was already doing trips around the world.”

Living in a big city helped too. In more rural areas, it can be a very different experience to be gay or bi, and for trans people, there are even greater risks.

“Not a lot of places in Brazil are so respectful as Belo Horizonte,” says Dutra. “As a country, we still have a lot to go through.”

It’s something he would be happy to talk more about in the context of sport, and the major contrasts in LGBTQ safety between different competing countries. He is interested in how Pride House France, the dedicated space and project at the Paris Games, might address this. 

“Of course, I want to come and talk about our rights. I think it’s the most important thing we can do right now.

“The Olympics is a big platform for us athletes to go and do content and talk about everything that we can possibly say.”

He mentions judoka Rafaela Silva and his fellow gymnast Arthur Nory — who came out publicly in November 2021 via a social media post about his boyfriend — as two inspirational athletes from Brazil. There is a British Olympic gold-medal winner he admires too.

“As I was growing up, Tom Daley was a really good role model to me,” Dutra adds. “For him to be out in his early years, it was great for me, to see one of the athletes being unapologetically himself.”

In trampoline, meanwhile, Australia’s Dom Clarke reached the Tokyo final three years ago as an out gay man.

Clarke was one of more than 180 athletes at the last Olympics who were visible as part of Team LGBTQ during the Games, but he was also one of just 17 who are men — and from that small group, only Irish taekwondo star Jack Woolley had spoken previously about being bi.

Dutra isn’t alone in being an elite male trampoline gymnast who happens to be bi, though. Another Briton, Luke Strong, who won synchro silver at the 2017 World Championships, is open about his bisexuality.

Visibility is slowly improving in sports and beyond it, there seems in general to be greater freedom for bi people, especially for those in Generation Z like Dutra who have grown up in more LGBTQ-friendly cultures.

A recent Gallup survey found 15% of all Gen Z adults in the U.S. said they are bi. For male Gen Z-ers only, the bi representation was 6.9%, compared to 2.8% gay and 89.6% who said they were not LGBTQ+.

None of this is lost on Dutra.

“With the Games, I hope we reach a lot of people, especially in Brazil,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of representation and I’m really happy to be one of the few athletes who is going to the Olympics who is proud to be himself.”

And what is his target when he’s there?

“My hope is to be in the final. But I also hope to just be the best.”

You can follow Rayan Dutra on TikTok and Instagram.