From gold medalists and world champions to professional athletes and coaches, the LGBTQ+ community has a rich history in the world of sports. Here are just a few LGBTQ+ athletes who have greatly impacted and dominated their sport.
- Skateboarder Alana Smith was the first openly nonbinary person to represent Team USA.
- Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy came out as gay on social media in October of 2015.
- In 2014, Michael Sam was the first openly gay man to be drafted into the NFL.
- Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay in 2021.
- Ryan Russell became the first openly bisexual person in the NFL and in any major professional league when he came out publicly in an essay for ESPN in August of 2019.
- Former American football offensive tackle Ryan O'Callaghan came out as gay after retiring from the NFL.
- Roy Simmons, an offensive guard for the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins in the early 1980s, revealed he’s gay during an appearance on The Phil Donahue Show.
- David Kopay, an NFL running back who played for five teams in the 1960s-1970s, was the first professional team-sport athlete to come out in 1975.
- Stefanie Dolson is openly LGBTQ+ and helped Team USA score gold in women’s 3x3 basketball.
Jason Paul Collins
- Jason Paul Collins was the NBA's first openly gay player.
- Sheryl Swoopes was an openly gay woman in the WNBA.
- Luke Prokop is the first player under contract to an NHL team to come out as gay.11
- Brock McGillis, the first openly gay pro hockey player
- Soccer star Megan Rapinoe is openly gay.
- Robbie Rogers was the first openly gay soccer player in a professional league.
Billie Jean King
- Professional tennis player Billie Jean King came out in 1981.
- 1970s professional tennis player Renée Richards was one of the first transgender athletes.
- 1920s professional tennis player Bill Tilden won the men's singles title at Wimbledon and was openly gay.
- One of the greatest female tennis players of all time, Martina Navratilova publicly revealed that she’s a member of the LGBTQ+ community during the height of her career.
- Patricio Manuel became the first openly transgender professional boxer.
- Orlando Cruz became the first openly gay man in boxing.
- Fallon Fox is the first openly transgender professional MMA fighter.
- Laurel Hubbard is set to become the first transgender Olympic athlete as a 43-year-old weight lifter from New Zealand.
- Glenn Burke is often credited with being the first gay man in the MLB.
- A pitcher for the independent Sonoma Stompers, Sean Conroy became the first professional baseball player to come out publicly while still active, in June 2015.
- Billy Bean is one of the first to publicly come out as gay in the MLB.
- While Jason Burch first came out to a teammate on the minor league Bowie Baysox in 2008, he did not publicly reveal his sexuality until 2015.
- David Denson was the first active baseball player to be openly gay.
- Olympic gymnast Danell Leyva came out in 2012.
- Bob Paris, the winner of Mr. America and Mr. Universe bodybuilding titles, came out in 1989 during an interview with Ironman magazine.
- Openly gay Army physician Tom Waddell placed sixth in the 1968 Olympic decathlon.
- Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender almost 40 years after winning gold at the Olympics.
- Tom Daley won gold in the men’s synchronized 10-meter platform and said he felt “incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion.”
- Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua is openly gay and represents a country where homosexuality can be punishable by a 10 year prison sentence.
- Bruce Hayes, an Olympic swimmer who won a gold medal in 1984 as a member of the 800-meter freestyle relay, comes out publicly in 1990.
- Openly gay Greg Louganis is frequently called the greatest diver of all time.
- Johnny Weir is an Olympic figure skater, and he's openly gay, publically coming out in 2011.
- Adam Rippon, a figure skater, was the first openly gay American to qualify for the Olympics.
- Matthew Hall, a figure skater on the Canadian National Team, came out in 1992, following the AIDS-related deaths of Canadian skaters Dennis Coi and Rob McCall.
- Openly gay Brian Orser is a former world figure skating champion and two-time Canadian Olympic silver medalist.
- Considered the Michael Jordan of her sport, Missy Giove, an openly lesbian mountain biker, wins her first world title.
- Ian Roberts, one of Australia's most popular rugby players, came out as gay in 1995, becoming the first rugby league player in the world to do so.
- Muffin Spencer-Devlin, an 18-year LPGA veteran, spoke about being a lesbian in the March 18’ issue of Sports Illustrated.