Editor’s Note: More out LGBTQ athletes competing at Santiago 2023 were added to our list since this article was initially published on Oct. 25 — up to 21 out athletes. Scroll to the end for updates.
The 19th edition of the Pan American Games got underway on Oct. 20 in Santiago, Chile, and ran through until Nov. 5.
There were over 6,900 athletes taking part, representing 40 nations, and with Olympic quota spots available, it was an important event in the build-up to Paris 2024.
Over a million spectators were expected to attend across the various competitions. It was the first time in Pan Am Games history that the event had been held in Chile, which is ranked by Equaldex as the 10th most LGBTQ-friendly nation on earth.
That spirit of welcome was reflected by out gay 3x3 basketball player Daniel Arcos lifting a Pride flag at the opening ceremony, a gesture that was well received by his fellow Team Chile athletes and by the stadium crowd.
Arcos won a silver medal as Chile lost 21-15 to the USA in the 3x3 men’s final on Oct. 23.
Also taking part in the opening ceremony in his home city was Tomas Gonzalez, who came out publicly earlier this year.
The three-time Olympian, who won gold for Chile in floor exercise at the last Pan Am Games in Lima in 2019, was promoting his autobiography ‘Champion’ when he first spoke about being gay, in an interview with national newspaper La Tercera.
The hosts had the most athletes in competition (664), closely followed by the USA (631) and Brazil (619). Each of Mexico and Argentina had over 500 team members, while Canada brought 469 athletes.
As with most multisports events, the athletes' village was a lively place to be. DW reported:
Organizers will be distributing 100,000 condoms during the games, the majority of which will be delivered to the athletes’ village and official hotels… the drive to promote safe sex among athletes and the population is clear.
Here, Outsports profiles more athletes who competed in Santiago and who are all publicly out as LGBTQ…
Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil, open water swimming)
Cunha claimed a silver medal in the Pan Am Games women’s 10km race at Laguna Los Morros on Oct. 29.
Now 31, the reigning Olympic champion is a true legend of the sport having won multiple medals, mostly gold, dating back to the 2006 South American Games.
She underwent shoulder surgery last November and after building up her strength and power once more, she won 5km bronze at the World Championships in Fukuoka in July.
In between, she married her wife Juliana Melhem, a personal trainer, in April.
Todd Harrity (USA, squash)
Currently ranked just outside the world’s top 50, Harrity was one of three U.S. athletes who took part in the men’s squash tournament in Santiago.
Five-and-a-half years ago, Harrity posted a coming-out message to X (then Twitter) to say he was “ready to live my life as an openly gay man”. At the Pan Am Games in Lima in 2019, he won gold medals in both the doubles and the team event.
In June, Harrity joined a Pride Month conversation for Squash TV, the Professional Squash Association’s YouTube channel, in which he explained that he chose to come out because of anxiety brought on by questions about relationships posed by others on the international squash circuit.
Now 33, he competed in singles, doubles and the team event in Santiago.
Bryden Hattie (Canada, diving)
Hattie, who spoke to Outsports for a feature interview last month, placed 10th in the men’s 3m springboard competition on Oct. 23.
Away from competition, however, the 22-year-old made plenty of headlines in the local media thanks to his viral TikTok videos from the athletes’ village. “The Canadian who won the love of Chile!” screamed one story. He even coined a catchphrase, ‘“Y la queso!” (“And the cheese!”)
Hattie’s quest to qualify for Paris 2024 is set to continue at Winter Nationals in Canada in December.
Florence Maheu (Canada, canoe slalom)
Maheu and her fiancee, Casey Jones, marked their five-year anniversary via Instagram at the start of this month, with bulldog Annie also getting in on the celebrations.
The 30-year-old competed at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago and was part of the kayak cross K-1 event in Santiago.
Jorge Luis Martinez (Mexico, speed roller skating)
As a former world champion, Martinez is well-known in Mexican sports. After winning bronze in the men’s 300-meter time trial at the Pan Am Games in Lima four years ago, he came out publicly as gay in an exclusive interview with GQ Mexico.
He told the magazine that he hoped it would be a “watershed moment” for the country, adding: “Hopefully it will serve as an inspiration to many others who want to do it but find something is stopping them.”
In Santiago, the 25-year-old won a silver medal in the 200m time trial and finished sixth in the 1000m sprint on the final weekend of the Games.
Arthur Nory Mariano (Brazil, artistic gymnastics)
It’s been two years since Nory posted a happy birthday message to his boyfriend Joao on Instagram. The couple are still going strong and regularly post holiday pics (often shirtless) on social media, to the delight of their many gay fans; Nory has 1.3m Insta followers.
At the conclusion of the men’s gymnastics competition at Santiago 2023, the 30-year-old had an impressive haul of four medals — bronze in the team all-around, silver in both floor exercise and vault, and gold in the horizontal bar. Overall, he has eight Pan American Games medals stretching back to Toronto 2015.
It was in floor exercise that Nory achieved a podium finish at his home Olympics in Rio in 2016, while he was crowned horizontal bar world champion at Stuttgart 2019.
In his Instagram post celebrating his success in Chile, he included a rainbow Pride flag emoji.
Ana Patricia (Brazil, beach volleyball)
Ana Patricia and her volleyball partner Eduarda Lisboa won their gold-medal match against Canada in the women’s beach competition on Oct. 27.
The duo had recently won silver medals at the World Championships in Mexico.
In late September, Patricia celebrated her 26th birthday on Instagram alongside her girlfriend, personal trainer Nycaelle Maia.
Hannah Roberts (USA, BMX freestyle)
On the final day of the Games, five-time world champion Roberts successfully defended the Pan Am Games BMX freestyle title she won in Lima four years ago.
She had headed to Chile having picked up a silver medal in the World Cup event in Bazhong, China, which proved enough to clinch the overall title.
Alena Sharp (Canada, golf)
Sharp brought home a bronze medal for Canada from the women’s golf tournament in La Reina, held on the final weekend of the Games.
Now 42, she came out publicly back in 2017 — her wife Sarah Bowman is also her caddie. Ranked in the world’s top 300, she was heading for Alabama after Santiago 2023 to take part in the LPGA Qualifying School final stage with a view to winning back her Tour card.
Rafaela Silva (Brazil, judo)
By taking the gold medal in the women’s 57-kg category on Oct former Olympic champion Silva banished the memories of her last Pan Am Games when she was disqualified for a positive doping test having originally won gold in Lima.
After an unsuccessful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the 31-year-old returned to competition in 2022 and won a shock World Championship gold medal in Tashkent, nine years after her first.
Silva married her wife Eleudis Valentim, a former judoka, in 2019.
Erica Sullivan (USA, swimming)
Sullivan took silver in the 1,500-meter freestyle at Tokyo 2020 and finished sixth in the same discipline in the final in Santiago on Oct. 25, wearing custom-made goggles in lesbian Pride flag colors.
The 23-year-old recently marked two years together with girlfriend Izzy Richards by posting to Instagram in celebration.
Back in June 2020, she chatted with Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler for an episode of his ‘Five Rings to Rule Them All’ podcast series, in which she discussed coming out to her teammates and coaches.
More Team LGBTQ athletes...
Thanks to LGBTQ sports historian Tony Scupham-Bilton for alerting us to more out LGBTQ athletes taking part at these Pan American Games.
Evy Leibfarth (USA, won bronze in canoe slalom women’s kayak cross K1 event)
Kayla Miracle (USA, won bronze in wrestling women’s freestyle 62kg)
Laurina Oliveros (Argentina, soccer)
Vanina Correa (Argentina, soccer)
Julieta Cruz (Argentina, soccer)
Romina Nuñez (Argentina, soccer)
Gabriela Guillen (Costa Rica, soccer)
Yenny Acuña (Chile, soccer)
Christiane Endler (Chile, soccer)
This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of LGBTQ athletes at Santiago 2023, and we’d like to improve it!
If you know of any other out LGBTQ athletes who competed at these Pan American Games, or have any other inquiry, please contact us via email (email@example.com), or direct message us on X / Twitter (@outsports), Instagram (@outsports) or Facebook (OutsportsSBN).