LGBTQ+ Athletes

Culture

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.

Nonbinary athlete alana smith

Alana Smith

  • Skateboarder Alana Smith was the first openly nonbinary person to represent Team USA.
Gay Athlete Gus Kenworthy

Gus Kenworthy

  • Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy came out as gay on social media in October of 2015.
Gay Athlete Michael Sam

Michael Sam

  • In 2014, Michael Sam was the first openly gay man to be drafted into the NFL.
Gay Athlete Carl Nassib

Carl Nassib

  • Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay in 2021.
Gay Athlete Ryan Russell

Ryan Russell

  • 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.
Gay Athlete Ryan O'Callaghan

Ryan O'Callaghan

  • Former American football offensive tackle Ryan O'Callaghan came out as gay after retiring from the NFL.
Gay Athlete Roy Simmons

Roy Simmons

  • 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.
Gay Athlete David Kopay

David Kopay

  • 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.
Lesbian Athlete Stefanie Dolson

Stefanie Dolson

  • Stefanie Dolson is openly LGBTQ+ and helped Team USA score gold in women’s 3x3 basketball.
Gay Athlete Jason Collins

Jason Paul Collins

  • Jason Paul Collins was the NBA's first openly gay player.
Gay Athlete Sheryl Swoopes

Sheryl Swoopes

  • Sheryl Swoopes was an openly gay woman in the WNBA.
Gay Athlete Luke Prokop

Luke Prokop

  • Luke Prokop is the first player under contract to an NHL team to come out as gay.11
Gay Athlete Brock McGillis

Brock McGillis

  • Brock McGillis, the first openly gay pro hockey player
Gay Athlete Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe

  • Soccer star Megan Rapinoe is openly gay.
Gay Athlete Robbie Rogers

Robbie Rogers

  • Robbie Rogers was the first openly gay soccer player in a professional league.
Gay Athlete Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King

  • Professional tennis player Billie Jean King came out in 1981.
Gay Athlete Renee Richards

Renee Richards

  • 1970s professional tennis player Renée Richards was one of the first transgender athletes.
Gay Athlete Bill Tilden

Bill Tilden

  • 1920s professional tennis player Bill Tilden won the men's singles title at Wimbledon and was openly gay.
Gay Athlete Martina

Martina Navratilova

  • 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.
Gay Athlete Patricio Manuel

Patricio Manuel

  • Patricio Manuel became the first openly transgender professional boxer.
Gay Athlete Orlando Cruz

Orlando Cruz

  • Orlando Cruz became the first openly gay man in boxing.
Gay Athlete Fallon Fox

Fallon Fox

  • Fallon Fox is the first openly transgender professional MMA fighter.
Gay Athlete Laurel Hubbard

Laurel Hubbard

  • Laurel Hubbard is set to become the first transgender Olympic athlete as a 43-year-old weight lifter from New Zealand.
Gay Athlete Glenn Burke

Glenn Burke

  • Glenn Burke is often credited with being the first gay man in the MLB.
Gay Athlete Sean Conroy

Sean Conroy

  • 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.
Gay Athlete

Billy Beane

  • Billy Bean is one of the first to publicly come out as gay in the MLB.
Gay Athlete Jason Burch

Jason Burch

  • 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.
Gay Athlete David Denson

David Denson

  • David Denson was the first active baseball player to be openly gay.
LGBTQ Athlete Danell Leyva

Danell Leyva

  • Olympic gymnast Danell Leyva came out in 2012.
LGBTQ Athlete Bob Paris

Bob Paris

  • Bob Paris, the winner of Mr. America and Mr. Universe bodybuilding titles, came out in 1989 during an interview with Ironman magazine.
LGBTQ Athlete Tom Waddell

Tom Waddell

  • Openly gay Army physician Tom Waddell placed sixth in the 1968 Olympic decathlon.
LGBTQ Athlete Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner

  • Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender almost 40 years after winning gold at the Olympics.
LGBTQ Athlete Tom Daley

Tom Daley

  • 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.”
LGBTQ Athlete Amini Fonua

Amini Fonua

  • Tongan swimmer Amini Fonua is openly gay and represents a country where homosexuality can be punishable by a 10 year prison sentence.
LGBTQ Athlete Bruce Hayes

Bruce Hayes

  • 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.
LGBTQ Athlete Greg Louganis

Greg Louganis

  • Openly gay Greg Louganis is frequently called the greatest diver of all time.
LGBTQ Athlete Johnny Weir

Johnny Weir

  • Johnny Weir is an Olympic figure skater, and he's openly gay, publically coming out in 2011.
LGBTQ Athlete Adam Rippon

Adam Rippon

  • Adam Rippon, a figure skater, was the first openly gay American to qualify for the Olympics.
LGBTQ Athlete Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall

  • 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.
LGBTQ Athlete Brian Orser

Brian Orser

  • Openly gay Brian Orser is a former world figure skating champion and two-time Canadian Olympic silver medalist.  
LGBTQ Athlete Missy Glove

Missy Giove

  • Considered the Michael Jordan of her sport, Missy Giove, an openly lesbian mountain biker, wins her first world title.
LGBTQ Athlete Ian Roberts

Ian Roberts

  • 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.
LGBTQ Athlete Muffin

Muffin Spencer-Devlin

  • Muffin Spencer-Devlin, an 18-year LPGA veteran, spoke about being a lesbian in the March 18’ issue of Sports Illustrated.

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