With at least 142 publicly out LGBTQ athletes set to compete in the Tokyo Olympics it’s safe to say that this year’s games will be the gayest in history. Women’s soccer boasts the largest contingent in this group, with more than 30 out players competing for gold.
As Megan Rapinoe says, “You can’t win a championship without gays on your team – it’s never been done before, ever. That’s science, right there!”
By our count, the Dutch squad have at least eight out players on their Olympic roster, more than any other country. I may be too loose in extrapolating the Rapinoe Scientific Method, but this can only mean that the Netherlands have the best odds at Olympic gold this year. (For journalistic transparency I must disclose my family’s Hollandaise origins, however the stroop in my veins bears no influence whatsoever on this unbiased conclusion.)
While the USWNT earned their 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup victory, the Dutch made it to the final with Sari van Veenendaal picking up the Golden Glove award.
Continue reading to get to know the eight OranjeLeeuwinnen (Orange Lionesses) who we know are publicly out, as well as all you need to know about who’s dating who. If you’re not already a Netherlands supporter, keep an open mind about your allegiances this Olympics.
Daniëlle van de Donk
One of the many on this squad who brought Netherlands to Euro Cup victory in 2017, van de Donk has had a successful career at Arsenal where she first began dating her teammate, Beth Mead. While van de Donk just transferred to OL last month, the pair are still together and remain one of the cutest soccer couples to follow on Instagram. She’s a reliable #10 with all the tools, and went viral during her time at Arsenal for her incredible nutmeg skills.
It’s not an overstatement to say that Miedema is one of the greatest strikers in women’s football, both the all-time leading scorer in the WSL as well as the Netherland’s top goalscorer of any gender. She plays for Arsenal along with her girlfriend, Lisa Evans. Miedema is also outspoken about LGBTQ acceptance in sport and has expressed that she hopes players in men’s soccer will feel empowered to come out as well.
Merel van Dongen
College soccer fans might know Merel from her time at Alabama, where she holds the Crimson Tide record for career assists. When she’s not playing for the Netherlands national team she plays as a defender for Spanish Primera División club Atlético Madrid. She’s dating former teammate Ana Romero, whom she played with during her time at Ajax.
Having previously played in the Dutch league, Folkertsma announced last month that she had signed to Bordeaux and will be joined in France by her girlfriend, physiotherapist and personal trainer Patricia van Laar. One of the more underrated players on the squad, she was a key piece in the Netherland’s 2017 European championship title.
Shanice van de Sanden
While moving between clubs from Liverpool to Lyon to Wolfsburg, van de Sanden first made a splash on the world stage helping to lead Netherlands to the FIFA World Cup finals in 2019. As the Dutch squad’s preeminent butch icon, she’s worth a follow on Instagram for her immaculate #OOTDs and colorful dye jobs alone.
Spitse is a veteran of the squad, having made her first appearance on the national team back in 2006 when she was only 16. With 188 caps for Netherlands — the most of any gender — her experience and longevity are a real asset to the squad. During her time at SC Heerenveen she met fellow player Jolien van der Tuin, and the pair went on to marry and have two children together. Teammate Shanice van de Sanden was a witness at their wedding back in 2018!
Stefanie Van Der Gragt
Another player with many club allegiances from Munich to Barcelona and most recently Ajax, Van Der Gragt remains a stalwart of the Dutch national team roster. In November last year, she and her parter Maryze Borst became mothers with the birth of their baby, Noé Linn. Find her on Instagram for plenty of adorable pictures.
In the teammates-to-girlfriends pipeline that basically defines women’s soccer, it was reported that Dekker was dating Genessee Daughetee during their time at Montpellier, but the pair has now split with Daughetee happily engaged to Austrian footballer Sarah Puntigam and Dekker currently with her SC Braga teammate Laura Casanovas. We hope that Dekker will get to see some time on the pitch in Tokyo, as she’s listed as a reserve squad member.
So, now that you’re sold on the team, what does it take to join Holland hive? Depending on where you live, during any match where the Netherlands makes an appearance you may encounter a crowd showing clear signs of oranjekoorts (orange fever) — namely, patriotically casting all sartorial sense aside to deck oneself in as much orange clothes and accessories as possible.
If you don’t have any orange in your closet but you live in the U.S. or the U.K., you may have some red, white and blue face paint lying around to blush your cheeks with the colors of the Dutch flag.
Now you’re ready to grab a Heineken and cheer, “Hup, Holland, hup!” (Go, Holland, go!)