Compared to Hollywood where the LGBTQ community has received quite a fair share of acceptance, the athletic arena has some miles to cover in terms of accepting LGBTQ individuals. Here we look at athletes who have come out as LGBTQ.
A 2019 Human Rights report stated that 70% of LGBTQ individuals do not reveal their gender identity to their teammates and coaches. Another report from OutSport Survey shows that 82% of athletes have faced homophobic or transphobic language in their sport.
However, some athletes have come out and are proud of who they are and have received support from their teammates, coaches, and fans.
Across all the athletic arenas, here are some of the past and present athletes who have proudly come out and are proud of who they are.
Athletes Who Have Come Out as LGBTQ
Below are some athletes who have come out as LGBTQ:
Renee Richards transitioned in the 1970s and later in 1976 applied to participate in the US Open. However, Richards did not take the Barr body test- a test to determine her sex. Following this, she was barred to participate in the US Open, which led to her suing the United States Tennis Association for gender discrimination and she was victorious.
Richards has become a reliable coach after retiring from the sport in 1981. However, Richards refuses to be seen as a trans activist.
O’Callaghan is well known for his participation in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots for six seasons. After his retirement in 2011, he developed suicidal thoughts and was addicted to painkillers since he was still closeted.
O’Callaghan admitted that he planned to play football and kill himself. He further revealed that he was convinced at a young age that his family would never love him if they knew who he really is.
After a psychologist convinced him to come out to his family, the family accepted him for who he is, he later came out publicly in 2017.
Athletes Who Have Come Out as LGBTQ – Megan Rapinoe
In 2019, the US national women’s team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, but it was evident that all fans were watching the team’s star player and captain, Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe became famous due to the series of TV interviews, where she was advocating for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights as a proud gay woman.
Jason Paul Collins
Collins made history in 2013 when he became the first individual to come out in all the four major professional sports. Collins broke the news when he was at the Washington Wizards center in an article in Sports Illustrated.
He wrote: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center, I’m black. And I’m gay.” Collins added that he didn’t seek to be the first openly gay athlete in the American sport. However, since he is he was happy to begin the conversation.
Swoopes was among the first women to be drafted into the WNBA and already has three Olympic gold medals. She’s better referred to as the Michal Jordan of the WNBA. Sheryl Swoopes came out as a proud gay in 2005.
In 2005, Swoopes admitted to The New York Times that she had reached a point where she was tired of pretending to be someone she’s not. She added that she was living a lie for seven, eight years and was waiting to exhale. She later retired from the sport in 2011.
Athletes Who Have Come Out as LGBTQ – Patricio Manuel
Patricio Manuel kicked off his boxing career as a woman in the 2000s. He became famous when he became a USA National Amateur Boxing Champion. After transitioning and came out as a trans person, he lost his coach and gym in the process.
However, in 2018 he fought Hugo Aguilar and won. Manuel became the first openly transgender boxer in the United States.
Orlando Cruz, a professional boxer hailing from Puerto Rico came out as gay. He announced that he has always been, and will always be a proud gay man.
Cruz told ESPN that he does not want to hide any of his identities. He added that he wants people to see him as a human being and as a professional boxer who always brings his best to the ring. He continued to say that he wants people to continue seeing him for his skills as a boxer, his character, and his sportsmanship. Cruz encourages kids who suffer from bullying that they can become whatever they want in life regardless of their sexuality.
In 2016, Cruz dedicated a match to the victims of the gay nightclub shooting at Pulse in Orlando, Florida.
Fallon Fox became the first trans woman in MMA fighting when she came out in a sequence of interviews for Sports Illustrated and Outsport in 2013. However, her coming out was faced with criticism and controversy over whether she should be given a chance to fight cis women.
Fox told The Guardian in 2015 that it took her about a year to have the transgender community support. The reason behind this being that trans people are afraid. She however stated that she had people who support her and that’s enough for her.
Atheltes Who Have Come Out as LGBTQ – Glenn Burke
Burke joined the MLB in 1977 playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His teammates knew about his sexuality but the public didn’t. Burke later left the game and relocated to San Francisco. He came out publicly in 1982 and later died of AIDS at the age of 45 years in 1995.
Robbie Rogers came out as gay and left the game in 2013 after playing soccer in England. He admitted that he left the game after coming out since he didn’t want the media’s attention and scrutiny.
Rogers said that all he wanted was to be a footballer and he wouldn’t want to deal with people coming to see him just because he’s gay.
He later joined the Los Angeles Galaxy and became the first openly gay man to play in the US professional league.