Proud to Play

LGBTQ Athletes Talk About Coming Out

Katie Sowers: Expanding LGBTQ Visibility on the Field

Cover of ESPN Body Issue: First Gay Couple

Super Bowl News: First Female and Openly Gay NFL Assistant Coach

Inspiring Message From Gay Athletes

Dennis Rodman: 10-20% of Pro Athletes Are Gay

Coming Out in Sports

Born to Play: Boston Renegades Women's Football Team

27 Athletes Who Have Come Out of the Closet

Out Gay Athletes

Is America Ready for Openly Gay Athletes?

Top WNBA Lesbian Basketball Players

List of LGBTQ Athletes

LGBTQ Sports Panel: Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe

PBS Video: Non-Binary Inclusion in Sports

Out Sports


Famous LGBTQ Athletes


Martina Navratilova - US Tennis Player

Greg Louganis - US Olympic Swimmer

Billie Jean King - US Tennis Player

Megan Rapinoe - US Women's Soccer Player

Michael Sam - US NFL Football Player

Sheryl Swoopes - US WNBA Basketball Player

Esera Tuaolo - US NFL Football Player

Brian Boitano – US Olympic Skater

John Amaechi - US NBA Basketball Player

Jason Collins - US NBA Basketball Player

Gus Kenworthy - US Olympic Skier

Derrick Gordon - US College Basketball Player

Johnny Weir - US Figure Skater

Katie Sowers - US NFL Football Coach

Brittany Griner - US WNBA Basketball Player

Denis Finnegan - USA Track & Field Champ

Thomas Beattie - International Soccer Player

Martha McCabe - Canadian Olympic Swimmer




Caitlyn Jenner - US Olympic Runner

Adam Rippon - US Olympic Skater

Glenn Burke - US MLB Baseball Player

Diana Nyad - US Swimmer

Glenn Burke - US Baseball Player

Ian Roberts - US Rugby Player

Orlando Cruz - Puerto Rican Boxer

Elena Delle Donne - US WNBA Basketball Player

Tom Daily - British Olympic Diver

Abby Wamback – US Olympic Soccer Player

Ryan Russell - US NFL Football Player

Justin Fashanu - US Soccer Player

Belle Brockhoff - US Olympic Snowboarder

Jeff Rohrer - US NFL Football Player

Will Sheridan - US College Basketball Player

Elena Delle Donne – US Olympic Basketball Player

Jackie Walker - All-American Football Linebacker

Tom Waddell – US Olympic Decathlete, Founder of Gay Games



LGBTQ Sports News


Cover of ESPN Body Issue: First Gay Couple

Rob Kearney: Openly Gay Strongman Gets Married

Denis Finnegan: Track & Field Champion Comes Out as Gay

University of Minnesota Track Stars Talk About Coming Out

Derrick Gordon: Out College Basketball Player

Star High School Football Player Comes Out

Rick Welts: Gay NBA Team President Marries Longtime Boyfriend

Figure Skater Amber Glenn: Coming Out as Bi/Pan

Dutee Chand: India's First Openly Gay Athlete

Sports Couple: Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger

Hurley Haywood: Racing Legend Comes Out as Gay

LGBTQ Sports Panel: Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe

Former Dallas Cowboy Comes Out as Gay and Gets Married

Krieger and Harris: US Soccer Teammates Engaged

Tadd Fujikawa: First Gay Pro Golfer to Come Out

Jeff Rohrer: NFL Player Comes Out and Marries Partner

Keala Kennelly: Lesbian Surfing Champion

NFL Veteran Comes Out as Bisexual

LGBTQ Sports Panel: Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe

Derrick Gordon: Black LGBTQ College Basketball Player

Dinah Shore Weekend: Biggest Lesbian Party in the World

NBA Legend Dwayne Wade Supports His Kid


Women's Soccer: USA Wins World Cup Title


The US Women's Soccer Team's World Cup championship isn't just a sports victory. It's resonating across the country as a symbolic victory for feminism, LGBTQ pride, and progressive politics. The team, especially openly lesbian co-captain Megan Rapinoe, has been boldly political, standing up for both women's rights and LGBTQ rights and against Donald Trump, who so clearly works against both.



The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup was the eighth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup, the quadrennial international football championship contested by 24 women's national teams representing member associations of FIFA. It took place between in June and July 2019, with 52 matches staged in nine cities in France, which hosted the event, the first time the country hosted the tournament.

The United States entered the competition as defending champions after winning the 2015 edition in Canada and successfully defended their title with a 2–0 victory over the Netherlands in the final. In doing so, they secured their record fourth title and became the second nation, after Germany, to have successfully retained the title.

If one person could embody all the pride, excitement, and swagger, it was US co-captain Megan Rapinoe, who battled the President of the United States even as she became the unparalleled star of the World Cup. Her boundless energy came across the Atlantic with her and was on display for all to see from the cable talk shows to the steps of New York’s City Hall.


Megan Rapinoe said, “There is nothing, nothing, that can faze this group. We’re chillin’. We got tea-sippin’. We got celebrations. We have pink hair and purple hair. We have tattoos and dreadlocks. We got white girls and black girls and everything in between. Straight girls and gay girls. It’s my absolute honor to lead this team out on the field. There’s no other place that I would rather be.”

NBC News: USA Wins Third Women's World Cup Title

Megan Rapinoe: Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year

USA Today: Megan Rapinoe and the US Women's Soccer Team

Sports Illustrated: Megan Rapinoe's Pride Shines

Washington Post: Rapinoe Delivers Rousing Victory Speech

Video: Megan Rapinoe's Speech at US Women's World Cup Champion's Parade

Salon: Women's World Cup is a Triumph

Wikipedia: 2019 FIFA Women's Soccer World Cup

Megan Rapinoe on Cover of ESPN Body Issue

Michael Sam: Gay Players in the NFL

Ten Openly Gay World Soccer Players



Billie Jean King: Battle of the Sexes


The 2017 film, “Battle of the Sexes,” is the true story of the 1973 tennis match between the world number one tennis player Billie Jean King and ex-champ Bobby Riggs. Included in the story is Billie Jean King’s affair with Marilyn Barnett.  The movie stars Emma Stone as Billie Jean King, Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs, and Andrea Riseborough as Marilyn Barnett.


IMDB: Battle of the Sexes

Out Magazine Interview: Battle of the Sexes


Jason Collins: Gay NBA Superstar and Hero


Jason Paul Collins (born 1978) is a gay American former professional basketball player who played 13 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). A center, Collins played college basketball for Stanford University, where he was an All-American in 2000–01. Collins was selected by the Houston Rockets as the 18th overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft. He went on to play for the New Jersey Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets.



After the 2012–13 NBA season concluded, Collins publicly came out as gay. He became a free agent and did not play again until February 2014, when he signed with the Nets and became the first openly gay athlete to play in any of four major North American pro sports leagues. In April 2014, Collins was featured on the cover of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World."


Collins was born in Northridge, California, along with his twin bother Jarron, who also became an NBA player. They graduated from Harvard-Westlake High School in Los Angeles. He and Jarron won two California Interscholastic Federation state titles during their four-year careers with a combined record of 123–10. Collins broke the California career rebounding record with 1,500. Collins played with brother Jarron for the Stanford Cardinals in the Pacific 10 Conference (Pac 10). In 2001, Collins was named to All-Pac 10 first team, and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) voted him to their third-team All-American team. He finished his college career ranked first in Stanford history for field goal percentage (.608) and third in blocked shots (89). 



In the cover story of the May 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated, Collins came out as gay, becoming the first active male athlete from one of the four major North American professional team sports to publicly do so. Collins also said the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 led him to choose "98" for his jersey number, in Shepard's honor. Following his announcement, Collins received high praise and support for deciding to publicly reveal that he is gay. Fellow NBA star Kobe Bryant praised his decision, as did others from around the league, including NBA commissioner David Stern. President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former president Bill Clinton, and Collins' corporate sponsor Nike were also among those offering their praise and support for Collins. Former tennis player Martina Navratilova, who came out as a lesbian in 1981, called Collins a "game-changer" for team sports, which she referred to as one of the last areas where homophobia remained. In addition to being an acclaimed athlete, Collins has the distinction of simultaneously identifying as gay, black, and Christian. As of June 2014, Collins was in a relationship with producer Brunson Green.


Biographical Notes: Jason Collins

CNN Sports: Jason Collins Comes Out as Gay

ABC News: First Gay Professional Athlete to Come Out

Players Tribune: Jason Collins Says "I'm Out"

Sports Illustrated: Why Jason Collins Came Out



Elena Delle Donne: WNBA Star Gets Married


WNBA basketball star Elena Delle Donne married her longtime girlfriend, Amanda Clifton, in November 2017 and the ceremony and festivities at Hempstead House on Long Island, NY were breathtaking.

The couple both donned elegant white wedding gowns and fed one another from a gigantic 6'4" cake (Elena is 6'5"), and shared the floor for the father-daughter dances.


Delle Donne came out publicly right before the 2016 Summer Olympics, sharing the story of her relationship with her girlfriend, now wife.


LGBTQ Nation: See Elena Delle Donne's Wedding Photos

Out Sports: Elena Delle Donne Marries Her Girlfriend

Logo:Elena Delle Donne's Dream Wedding

WNBA Video: Best of Elena Delle Donne



LGBTQ Athletes in 2018 Winter Olympics


Two Olympic Hockey Rivals Married Each Other

LGBTQ Athletes Competing in Winter Games

Out Sports: LGBTQ Winter Olympians

Gus Kenworthy: Openly Gay US Olympic Skier

LGBTQ Athletes Winning Medals at 2018 Winter Olympics

Eric Radford: Openly Gay Canadian Olympic Skater

LGBTQ Women at the 2018 Winter Olympics

Historic Olympic Moment: Gus Kenworthy Publicly Kisses Boyfriend


Rio Olympics and LGBTQ Athletes


Unlike the Sochi Olympic Games (2014), where gay rights were called into question over anti-gay laws enacted by Russia’s government, the Rio Olympic Games (2016) were a lot more tolerant by comparison. It wasn’t flawless in that regard. For example, homophobic slurs were shouted by some in the stands at a US women’s soccer match as the games opened. But, overall, there were encouraging signs of progress on the inclusion front.


Top Ten LGBTQ Moments From Rio Olympics

Rio Games: Queerest Olympics Ever

Out at the Rio Olympics

Rio Olympics Shows Support for LGBTQ Rights & LGBTQ Athletes

LGBTQ Athletes Competing at Rio Olympics

Advocate: Olympic Spirit Includes LGBTQ People This Time

Meet the LGBTQ Athletes at the Rio Olympics

Rio Olympics: Most Open LGBTQ Athletes Ever

Former Captains of US and Canadian Women's Hockey Teams Celebrate Their Baby


“That’s what I hope for and I feel like our society is going in the right direction,” said US women’s basketball star Elena Delle Donne, who came out and announced her engagement last week. “That’s not a story. It’s normal.”  The new normal, perhaps.


Gay marriage is legal in Brazil, though tolerance seems far from universal. One gay rights group says that on average since 2013, about one LGBTQ person each day has been killed in Brazil. The organization called Grupo Gay da Bahia calls Brazil “the world champion of crimes motivated by homophobia and transphobia.”



 “I know all the prejudice that exists in society against homosexuals,” said 2012 Olympic beach volleyball bronze medalist Larissa Franca of Brazil, who competed again in Rio. “We don’t choose our feelings, let alone control them.”  At these Olympics, there seems to be far more cheering than prejudice.”


Whether it was a transgender model appearing in the athletes’ parade at the opening ceremony, two men kissing during their leg of the torch relay along Copacabana Beach or the British women’s field hockey team including two teammates who are married (an Olympic first) it was an Olympic event unlike any other for the LGBTQ community.


Openly LGBTQ Athletes Who Won Gold Medals at Rio 2016

Rachelle Bruni Gay Swim Star from Italy

First Trans Man on US Olympic Team

Openly Gay Male Olympians at Rio 2016

Marriage Proposal at Rio Olympics

US Soccer Star Megan Rapinoe Talks About Being a Gay Athlete

Openly Lesbian Olympians at Rio 2016

Chris Mosier: US Trans Olympic Swimmer

Isadore Cerullo: Rugby Player Gets Engaged to Her Girlfriend at Rio Olympics

Johnny Weir at Rio Olympics




The Washington Blade list of openly gay and lesbian 2016 Olympic athletes:


Nicola Adams (Great Britain, boxing)

Tom Bosworth (Great Britain, race walk)

Dutee Chand (India, track & field)

Lisa Dahlkvist (Sweden, soccer)

Katie Duncan (New Zealand, soccer)

Nilla Fisher (Sweden, soccer)

Larissa França (Brazil, beach volleyball)

Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian)

Brittney Griner (US, basketball)

Carl Hester (Great Britain, equestrian)

Michelle Heyman (Australia, soccer)

Stephanie Labbe  (Canada, soccer)

Alexandra Lacrabère (France, handball)

Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden, soccer)

Carolina Seger (Sweden, soccer)

Melissa Tancredi (Canada, soccer)

Ari-Pekka Liukkonen (Finland, swimming)

Hans Peter Minderhoud (Netherlands, equestrian)

Ian Matos (Brazil, diving)

Angel McCoughtry (US, basketball)

Nadine Müller (Germany, discus)

Caster Semenya (South Africa, track & field)

Marie-Eve Nault (Canada, soccer)

Ashley Nee (US, kayak whitewater slalom)

Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey

Mayssa Pessoa (Brazil, handball)

Megan Rapinoe (US, soccer)

Susannah Townsend (Great Britian, field hockey)

Sunette Stella Viljoen (South Africa, javelin)

Marieke van der Wal (Netherlands, handball)

Spencer Wilton (Great Britain, equestrian)

Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (Netherlands, field hockey)



LGBTQ Sports Notes


Former Dallas Cowboy Comes Out as Gay and Gets Married

Top WNBA Lesbian Basketball Players

Krieger and Harris: US Soccer Teammates Engaged

Cover of ESPN Body Issue: First Gay Couple

Track Team Mates: Coming Out and Dating

Tadd Fujikawa: First Gay Pro Golfer to Come Out

NIC Athlete Breaks Barriers: Comes Out as Gay

Tom Dailey: British Olympic Diver is Gay

Sports Couple: Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger

PBS Video: Non-Binary Inclusion in Sports

Jeff Rohrer: NFL Player Comes Out and Marries Partner

Kealy Kennelly: First Openly Gay World Surfing Camp

Soccer Superstar Abby Wambach Comes Out & Gets Married
Dinah Shore Weekend: Biggest Lesbian Party in the World

NBA Star Dwayne Wade Supports His Gay Son

ESPN's Brief History of Gay Athletes
Robbie Rogers: Openly Gay Soccer Player


Caitlyn Jenner Honored


Caitlyn Jenner (the former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner) was presented with the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPN Awards event.  Presented by US women's soccer player Abby Wambach, who first introduced a touching montage of Caitlyn's journey, Jenner walked onto the stage and was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd as the entire Kardashian and Jenner brood supported in the audience.



Caitlyn revealed she had never met another transgender person before the last few months, and expressed the importance in accepting and respecting everyone for who they are. "My plea to you tonight is to join me in making this one of your issues as well. Learn as much as you can about another person."  She continued, "I trained hard. I competed hard. And for this, people respected me. But this transition was harder on me than anything I could have imagined. And that's the case for so many others besides me. For that reason alone, trans people deserve something vital. They deserve your respect." 


The 65-year-old thanked fellow transgender people in the industry and in the spotlight, like Laverne Cox and Chaz Bono.  "It is an honor to have the word ‘courage' associated with my life, but on this night, another word comes to mind, and that is ‘fortunate.' I owe a lot to sports. It showed me the world. It's given me an identity.  If you wanna call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead. Because the reality is I can take it. But for the thousands of kids out there coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn't have to take it.  So for the people out there wondering what this is all about, whether its about courage or controversy or publicity, it's about what happens from here. It's not just about one person. It's about thousands of people. It's not just about me. It's about all of us accepting one another. We're all different. It's not a bad thing. It's a good thing."


Caitlyn Jenner Honored at 2015 ESPY Event

Bio: Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner: Trans Rights Advocate


Lesbian Tennis Superstar Martina Navratilova Honored


Tennis legend and LGBTQ icon Martina Navratilova was honored in September 2010 during the opening ceremonies of the US Tennis Open in New York. The honor, for “those who dream, succeed and inspire,” according to organizers, is fitting for Navratilova who has battled "nasty curveballs" in her personal and professional life but always come out a winner. “It’s the positive attitude that gets you through life and it is a choice,” she said. “I’ve always been too much of an optimist where I sort of ignore bad stuff until it sits right there in front of me. I’m saying nothing is going to go wrong and, when it does, that’s when I deal with it. That’s how I’ve gotten through life. I think it’s done me pretty well.” 



The 53-year-old Czech native knows something about grit and attitude. Early in 2010, she was diagnosed with noninvasive breast cancer and underwent surgery and radiation only to win the Wimbledon ladies' invitation doubles in June 2010.  Martina also spoke to the crowd about publicly coming out of the closet as a lesbian the year she made it to her first US Open final. “In 1981, I came out as a gay woman. That was not a good thing to do back then. There were a lot of doors that were shut in my face because of that, but you know what, I could still play tennis, no matter what.”


On December 15, 2014, Martina married her longtime partner Julia Lemigova at the Peninsula Hotel in New York City. Their marriage was seen very much as a public statement. During that time, Martina was 58, and Julia was 42. At the US Open, Martina proposed to her longtime girlfriend Julia for the wedding by going down on one knee while on camera. Their wedding was attended by Julia’s two daughters Victoria Lemigova and Emma Lemigova.


Martina Navratilova Marries Julia Lemigova

Tennis Icon Martina Navratilova Gets Married

People Magazine: Martina Navatilova Wedding


Michael Sam is First Openly Gay NFL Athlete


Michael Sam made history on May 10, 2014 as the St. Louis Rams made him the 249th overall choice in the 2014 NFL draft.  The Missouri defensive end became the first openly gay football player to be drafted in league history and seeks to be the first openly gay athlete ever to play in the NFL. The Rams used the 249th overall selection on Michael Sam, giving the first openly gay player the opportunity to begin his NFL career in surroundings that should be comfortable. Shortly after learning of his selection by phone, surrounded by friends and family, a visibly emotional Sam turned to his boyfriend and kissed him.



Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from the University of Missouri, announced in February 2014 that he is gay. Sam stated publicly what his teammates and coaches have known since August 2013: "I am an openly, proud gay man." 


ESPN: Michael Sam Overwhelmed by Pick

Huff Post: Michael Sam and the Great Facebook Kiss-In

NY Daily News: Michael Sam and His Boyfriend

CNN: Michael Sam, NFL Draft, and Kissing Boyfriend on TV

Huff Post: Michael Sam Kisses Boyfriend on Network TV


Billie Jean King: Tennis Icon


Billie Jean King (born November 22, 1943) is an American former World No. 1 professional tennis player. King won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. King won the singles title at the inaugural WTA Tour Championships. King often represented the United States in the Federation Cup and the Wightman Cup. She was a member of the victorious US team in seven Federation Cups and nine Wightman Cups. For three years, King was the US captain in the Federation Cup.



King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice. In 1973, at age 29, she won the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match against 55-year-old Bobby Riggs, and was the founder of the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation.


Regarded by many in the sport as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, King was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987. The Fed Cup Award of Excellence was bestowed on King in 2010. King has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year lifetime achievement award. King was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1990, and in 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center in New York City was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.


Billie Jean and Larry King were engaged in fall of 1964 and married in Long Beach, California, on September 17, 1965. Billie Jean credited Larry with introducing her to feminism and for pushing her to pursue tennis as a career. Billie Jean later said she "was totally in love with Larry" when they married.




By 1968, King realized that she was attracted to women, and in 1971, began an intimate relationship with her secretary, Marilyn Barnett. King acknowledged the relationship when it became public in a May 1981 'palimony' lawsuit filed by Barnett, making King the first prominent professional female athlete to come out as a lesbian. Feeling she could not admit to the extent of the relationship, King publicly called it a fling and a mistake. She remained married to Larry. The lawsuit caused King to lose an estimated $2 million in endorsements and forced her to prolong her tennis career to pay attorneys.


Concerning the personal cost of concealing her sexuality for so many years, King said: I wanted to tell the truth but my parents were homophobic and I was in the closet. People told me that if I talked about what I was going through, it would be the end of the women's tour. I couldn't get a closet deep enough. One of my big goals was always to be honest with my parents and I couldn't be for a long time. I tried to bring up the subject but felt I couldn't. My mother would say, "We're not talking about things like that", and I was pretty easily stopped because I was reluctant anyway. I ended up with an eating disorder that came from trying to numb myself from my feelings. I needed to surrender far sooner than I did. At the age of 51, I was finally able to talk about it properly with my parents and no longer did I have to measure my words with them. That was a turning point for me as it meant I didn't have regrets any more.


Billie Jean and Larry remained married through the palimony suit fallout. The marriage ended in 1987 after Billie Jean fell in love with her doubles partner, Ilana Kloss. Billie Jean and Larry remained on good terms, with Billie Jean serving as godmother to Larry's son from his subsequent marriage. King has residences in New York City and Chicago with Kloss, her life partner.


ESPN: Billie Jean King

Wikipedia: Billie Jean King

IMDB: Battle of the Sexes

Out Magazine Interview: Battle of the Sexes


Olympian Brian Boitano Comes Out


In December 2013, at the start of the Sochi Olympic Games, US gold-medal-winning figure skater Brian Boitano came out as gay. His announcement came amidst great public dissatisfaction with the Russian government, who had recently been very outspoken in its opposition to LGBTQ rights and very aggressive with its anti-gay laws. Many protests and boycotts have been staged to express outrage at Russia, the host of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.  Brian Boitano, a member of the US delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics, in announcing he is gay, made him the third gay member of the delegation that traveled to Russia.



 The 50-year-old Boitano, who has deflected questions about his sexuality in the past, said that “being gay is just one part of who I am.”  President Obama named Boitano to the delegation along with Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, two openly lesbian star athletes.  “I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am,” Boitano said in a statement published by USA Today.


“First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.”  The very makeup of the delegation appeared to send a clear message about the administration's dissatisfaction with the Russian government on a range of foreign policy and human rights issues, including the treatment of gays.


Proud to Play

LGBTQ Athletes Talk About Coming Out

Inspiring Message From Gay Athletes

Coming out in Sports

Out Gay Athletes


Basketball Athlete Jason Collins Comes Out


In May 2013, Sports Illustrated featured a front cover story about Jason Collins' public coming out story.  Jason Collins, center for the Washington Wizards states, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay. I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, I'm different. If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand. My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons."



Jason Collins is an 11-year NBA veteran basketball star. He has played for 6 professional teams and appeared in two NBA Finals. Currently he plays for the Washington Wizards. Just before that, he played for the Boston Celtics. For more than a decade as a professional athlete, he had remained silent about his sexuality, worried about what teammates, opponents, fans (the world, really) might think. So after having "endured years of misery and gone to enormous lengths to live a lie," Collins became the first active player in one of the four major US pro sports leagues to come out as gay.


“I don’t know what to tell you," he explains. "You get so used to wearing a mask. You get used to telling half-truths, telling lies, telling stories about making up fictitious girlfriends or whatever it is. In the end, it’s all about making this step forward in my life and being completely honest and up front and genuine. It just goes back to anybody who tries to keep some secret. The weight just gets heavier and heavier and heavier. It starts taking its toll on you mentally and physically to the point where you just don’t sleep well.”


Jason Collins: NBA Athlete Comes Out

Yahoo News: NBA Player Jason Collins Breaks Barrier
Washington Post: Response to Jason Collins' Coming Out Has Been Positive
Chicago Tribune: Collins' Coming Out and Gay Acceptance

Jason Collins' Coming Out is Opening Doors for People


LGBTQ Ally Brendon Ayanbedejo 


Brendon Ayanbadejo is an African-American football linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. He is also the first straight football player to come out as a strong, outspoken LGBTQ ally and supporter.


When expressing his views on gay marriage and LGBTQ rights, he says, "It's a matter of fairness. Maybe I am a man ahead of my time. However, looking at the former restrictions on human rights in our country starting with slavery, women not being able to vote, blacks being counted as two thirds of a human, segregation, no gays in the military all have gone by the wayside.”



In 2009, as he questioned the prohibition on same sex marriage, he said, “I think we will look back in 10, 20, 30 years and be amazed that gays and lesbians did not have the same rights as everyone else. How did this ever happen in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Discrimination against any group of people is barbaric." 


He has voiced his opinions regarding LGBTQ rights in several magazine interviews, including ESPN Magazine and Men's Journal. His video in support of same-sex marriage has been heavily circulated, especially in his home state of Maryland.  Others have said of Brendon, "This is newsworthy in the sense that pro athletes normally do not even discuss issues relating to gay or lesbians, especially in the world of pro football. Right or wrong, it simply doesn't fit the macho image of tough, rugged football players. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his stance on the issue, you have to admire Ayanbadejo's courage for speaking out."


Trans Basketball Player Gabrielle Lugwig


In December 2012, the women's basketball team at Mission College expected the bleachers to be full and the hecklers ready when its newest player made her home court debut.  In the days leading up to the game, people had plenty to say about 6-foot-6-inch tall, 220-pound Gabrielle Ludwig, who joined the Lady Saints as a mid-season walk-on and became, according to advocates, the first transsexual to play college hoops as both a man and a woman.  Coach Corey Cafferata worried the outside noise was getting to his players, particularly the 50-year-old Ludwig.



A pair of ESPN radio hosts had laughed at her looks, referring to her as "it." And online threats and anonymous calls prompted the two-year college to assign the Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm a safer parking space next to the gym and two police guards.  Last week, Ludwig gathered her 10 teammates at practice and offered to quit. This was their time to shine, she told the group of 18-20-year-olds. She didn't want to be a distraction for the team. The other women said if Ludwig, whom they nicknamed "Big Sexy" and "Princess," didn't play, they wouldn't either.  Didn't she know she was the glue holding the team together?  "Then let's just play basketball," she replied solemnly, looking each teammate in the eye.  A lifelong basketball lover, Ludwig has been helping coach and working out with the Saints since the beginning of the school year, but she only received conference clearance to compete in November 2012. She took the court as No. 42, scoring three points on four free throws in about seven minutes of play. During her first home game, she scored eight points in 11 minutes, and not a single heckle.  "I got exactly what I always wanted, just to fit in and be normal like everyone else," Ludwig said.



Openly Gay Olympic Athletes at Summer Games


The number of openly gay and lesbian athletes at the 2012 London Summer Olympics surpassed the totals for Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. There were 21 openly gay and lesbian London Olympians, two coaches and two gay Paralympians. This compares with 11 in Athens and 10 in Beijing, showing some progress in athletes being public about their sexual orientation, but still a low number.


I Found Love at the Sochi Olympics

Brian Boitano Talks About Olympic Games in Sochi

Sochi Olympics: Reading the Pictures

Gay Propaganda Laws: Olympians Fight Back

Gay Rights Activists at Sochi Olympics

How Sochi Became the Gay Olympics



The Outsports list of openly gay and lesbian 2012 Olympic athletes:


Marilyn Agliotti  (Netherlands, field hockey)

Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling)

Seimone Augustus (US, basketball)

Natalie Cook (Australia, beach volleyball)

Lisa Dahlkvist (Sweden, soccer)

Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (Netherlands, field hockey)

Imke Duplitzer  (Germany, fencing) 

Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian)

Jessica Harrison (France, triathlon)

Carl Hester (Britain, equestrian)

Alexandra Lacrabère (France, handball)

Jessica Landström (Sweden, soccer)

Hedvig Lindahl  (Sweden, soccer)

Matthew Mitcham (Australia, diving)

Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey)

Carole Péon (France, triathlon)

Mayssa Pessoa (Brazil, handball)

Megan Rapinoe (US, soccer)

Lisa Raymond (US, doubles tennis)

Rikke Skov (Denmark, handball)

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Germany, cycling)


Péon and Harrison are a couple. In addition, Pia Sundhage, US women’s soccer head coach, is openly gay, as is Hope Powell, Great Britain's women’s soccer coach. The gay Paralympians are Lee Pearson, a male British equestrian athlete, and Claire Harvey, a member of Britain’s women’s volleyball team.


Out Gay Athletes

27 Athletes Who Have Come Out of the Closet

Is America Ready for Openly Gay Athletes?

Out Sports

List of LGBTQ Athletes


WNBA Star Sheryl Swoopes Comes Out


Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese made the following statement as three-time WNBA MVP player and Olympic gold medalist Sheryl Swoopes came out in October 2005, in an interview with ESPN's The Magazine:


"Sheryl Swoopes is a real hero on and off the court. Being open and honest about your life is an act of bravery.  This MVP player and Olympic gold medalist is helping to start real conversations about openness, honesty and authenticity.  We commend her for this brave step that will mean so much to her gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight supportive fans and peers."




In an interview with The Magazine, Swoopes said, "Some people might say my coming out after just winning the MVP award is heroic, and I understand that. And I know there are going to be some negative things said, too. But it doesn't change who I am. I can't help who I fall in love with. No one can."


Kye Allums Transgender Basketball Player


George Washington University 21-year old junior Kye Allums is transgender and originally played women's basketball as a woman. But he now plays the role of a brother, not a sister, to his teammates.  Everything is the same when he takes to the court, except that Allums is now identified as a man, becoming the first openly transgender player in NCAA Division I basketball. "This means a lot," Allums said in a statement. "I didn't choose to be born in this body and feel the way I do."


The 5 foot 11 inch guard from Hugo, Minnesota, said the university has been supportive of his decision. But he will not be permitted to undergo testosterone therapy as long as he is competing.  A report last month from the National Center on Lesbian Rights and the Women's Sports Foundation provided guidance on the matter, saying that transgender student athletes "should be allowed to participate in any gender-segregated sports activity so long as that athlete's use of hormone therapy, if any, is consistent with the national governing body's existing policies on banned medications." 



Robert Chernak, senior vice provost at George Washington, said the university is fully accepting of Allums decision to live as a male student.  "Kye has informed the university that he will not begin any medical or drug protocols while a student-athlete," Chernak said. "Kye will continue to be a member of the women's basketball team. 


Allums grew up as a tomboy and later tried behaving and dressing the way teenage girls do, according to an interview with OutSports, an online gay sports site.  "I decided to transition, that is change my name and pronouns because it bothered me to hide who I am, and I am trying to help myself and others to be who they are," Allums said in his statement. In his sophomore year, he began telling people he was a man trapped in a woman's body. "I told my teammates first, and they, including my coaches, have supported me," he said. "My teammates have embraced me as the big brother of the team. They have been my family, and I love them all."


Proud to Play

LGBTQ Athletes Talk About Coming Out

Cover of ESPN Body Issue: First Gay Couple

Inspiring Message From Gay Athletes

Dinah Shore Weekend: Biggest Lesbian Party in the World

Coming Out in Sports

Top WNBA Lesbian Basketball Players

Megan Rapinoe: Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year

27 Athletes Who Have Come Out of the Closet

Out Gay Athletes

Is America Ready for Openly Gay Athletes?

List of LGBTQ Athletes

Out Sports




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