The 2016 Summer Olympic games returns to the arena in Rio Brazil, it could be the gayest Olympics yet. As we set and view the opening ceremonies on August 5th during primetime television, with millions of people watching, the LGBT community will have it’s own team competing. The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio will have a record number of publicly out lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex athletes.
Outsports and LGBT historian Tony Scupham-Bilton have identified at least 41 out athletes who will compete, as well as three coaches. Several out athletes have also qualified for the Paralympics.
There is a record 10 publicly out male athletes, though none are from the U.S. There is also one married couple, Helen Richardson-Walsh and Kate Richardson-Walsh, British field hockey players. At least three publicly out head coaches, Alyson Annan (the Dutch women’s field hockey team), Jill Ellis (head coach of the United States women’s soccer team) and Pia Sundhage (head coach of Sweden’s women’s soccer team).
We expect the list to grow, as more athletes are predicted to be coming out during the games themselves. This often occurs on team sports in Europe or in lesser-know sports where athletes are out, but haven’t gotten much publicity.
It with great Pride that we applaud our brothers and sisters from across the globe, competing and celebrating, as only LGBTs can.
Nicola Adams (Great Britain, boxing, 5’5″, 35)
Boxer Nicola Adams will defend her title after earning a spot in Rio at the European qualifying tournament. Adams has been a dominant force internationally, winning major competitions for the last five years including gold in the 51kg weight class at the 2012 Olympics.
Seimone Augustus (USA, basketball, 6’1″, 32)
Minnesota Lynx star Seimone Augustus, having won gold with Team USA in 2012. Augustus married her wife, LaTaya Varner, this past May just before the start of the 2016 WNBA season.
Tom Bosworth (Great Britain, race walk, 6′, 26)
Tom Bosworth, a champion race walker for Britain. Bosworth said, “He hopes to show other athletes that it is possible for elite athletes to come out.”
Dutee Chand (India, track & field, 5’4″, 20)
Indian professional sprinter and current national champion in the women’s 100 meters event. She is the third Indian woman to ever qualify for the Women’s 100 meters. Chand was dropped from the competing stating that hyperandrogenism made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete. Chand later won that case clinching a major victory for intersex and gender inclusion in the sports world.
Tom Daley (Great Britain, diving, 5’10”, 22)
Diver Tom Daley said he is gay, dropping the suggestion that he is bisexual. He also says he has a boyfriend, believed to be screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.
Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (Netherlands, field hockey, 5’7″, 29)
At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she competed for the Netherlands women’s national field hockey team in the women’s event. Fox News notes her as one of ten LGBT Olympians that medaled in London.
Lisa Dahlkvist (Sweden, soccer, 5’8″, 28)
A Swedish professional football midfielder who plays for French club Paris Saint-Germain and the Sweden national team. Dahlkvist identifies as a lesbian and came out publicly in 2008.
Katie Duncan (New Zealand, soccer, 5’3″, 26)
An Association footballer that plays for FC Zürich and New Zealand. She is married to fellow New Zealand footballer Priscilla Duncan.
Nilla Fischer (Sweden, soccer, 5’9″, 31)
Swedish footballer for VfL Wolfsburg and the Swedish national team. In December 2013, she married her partner Mariah-Michaela.
Larissa França (Brazil, beach volleyball, 5’9″, 34)
Beach volleyball player from Brazil, she is the all-time leader of beach volleyball titles, with 57 FIVB career gold medals. In August 2013, Larissa married fellow female player Liliane Maestrini.
Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian, 6’1″, 46)
He and the stallion Totilas (nicknamed Toto) were triple gold medalists in London. Gal is in a long-term relationship with teammate Hans Peter Minderhoud and has been interviewed in several Dutch media outlets about it.
Kelly Griffin (USA, rugby, 5’4″, 29)
American rugby sevens player, Kelly Griffin won a silver medal at the 2015 Pan American Games as a member of the United States women’s national rugby sevens team.
Brittney Griner (USA, basketball, 6’8″, 25)
American professional basketball center for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Griner publicly came out as a lesbian. She also revealed that she was bullied as a child. She is very passionate about working with children in order to bring attention to the issue of bullying, particularly against LGBT people.
Carl Hester (Great Britain, equestrian, 6′, 49)
Won team gold at the London 2012 Olympics. Hester is openly gay, and was previously in a relationship with international dressage rider Spencer Wilton.
Michelle Heyman (Australia, soccer, 5’11”, 28)
Australian football player who currently plays for Canberra United in the W-League in Australia.
Mélanie Henique (France, swimming, 5’7″, 23)
A French swimmer who won a bronze medal in 50 m butterfly at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai.
Stephanie Labbe (Canada, soccer, 5’10”, 29)
Canadian soccer goalkeeper who plays internationally for the Canada women’s national soccer team, and with the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League.
Alexandra Lacrabère (France, handball, 5’10”, 29)
French handball player, who has plays for the French national team. We know it is not easy to be out in the sport, but Alexandra, 24, just broached the subject. She said she loved painting, shopping and especially spending time with her girlfriend.
Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden, soccer, 5’10”, 33)
A Swedish professional football goalkeeper who plays for Chelsea Ladies. Lindahl suffers from vitiligo and has to apply high factor sunscreen before and during matches. She married wife Sabine in 2011.
Ari-Pekka Liukkonen (Finland, swimming, 6’10”, 29)
Olympic swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen, 24, has come out publicly as gay in reaction to anti-gay laws passed in Russia. Liukkonen, who swam at the 2012 London Olympics, Ari-Pekka said the reason he came out is because the issue was not being widely discussed by the Finnish sports media. He also described the emotional toll of staying closeted.
Robbie Manson (New Zealand, rowing, 6’2″, 26)
Olympic rower for New Zealand, came out publicly as gay, talks about the struggles and coming out to friends before the 2012 Olympics. “There are already a lot of great gay sporting role models, and a lot who have achieved far more than I have, but I hope that my story can add something to what is already out there. To show other people who might be struggling with their sexuality, not only that it’s ok to be gay, but also it’s a good thing, and it won’t change who you are or limit what you can achieve,” Manson explained.
Hans Peter Minderhoud (Netherlands, equestrian, 6’2″, 42)
A Dutch dressage rider, Minderhoud rides with his horse Gameboy. He qualified for the individual competition as well as the team event. In personal life, Minderhoud is the lover of teammate Edward Gal, rated the top equestrian in the world.
Ian Matos (Brazil, diving, 5’7″, 27)
Brazilian diver Ian Matos has come out publicly as gay, “From a young age, I knew I was gay, but it was here that I got to live my sexuality,” said Matos, 24, now living in Rio de Janiero.
Angel McCoughtry (USA, basketball, 6’1″, 29)
American professional basketball player for the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). McCoughtry has come out publicly stating, “Yes we been discriminated against! We lost friends! Family members are upset! They said I disgraced my religion! One thing I do know is that LOVE is a great feeling!”
Nadine Müller (Germany, discus, 6’4″, 29)
The German discus thrower Nadine Müller, announced her gay marriage via Facebook. She married her friend Sabine on New Years Eve. “We do not want to hide anymore or avoid any relationship questions,” said the 29-year-old.
Marie-Eve Nault (Canada, soccer, 5’7″, 34)
The Canadian soccer defender plays for the women’s national soccer team. She was initially selected as an alternate, excluding her from the 18-woman squad. However, after two teammates were injured in the group stage, Nault was selected as a replacement.
Ashley Nee (USA, kayak whitewater slalom, 5’4″, 27)
Maryland native Ashley Nee prepares for her first Olympics on the U.S. canoe and kayak team. She was training in Rio last month when a coach told her that she would be the lone woman on the 2016 U.S. slalom team.
Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey, 5’9″, 30)
Dutch field hockey player, who plays as midfielder for Dutch club HC Den Bosch. She also plays for the Netherlands national team and she was part of the Dutch squad that became World Champions in 2006. She is openly lesbian. Paumen was selected as FIH Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
Mayssa Pessoa (Brazil, handball, 5’11”, 31)
Brazilian female handball goalkeeper who plays for ŽRK Vardar and the Brazilian national team. She was one of nearly two-dozen LGBT Olympians at the London Games. She is engaged to a Canadian model, Nikki Shumaker.
Jillion Potter (USA, rugby, 5’10”, 30)
Potter missed the 2014-15 Women’s Sevens Series due to being diagnosed with stage III synovial sarcoma, but beat the illness and returned to the Olympic Training Center ahead of the 2015-16 Series. Playing in 22 of the team’s 29 matches, Potter worked her way back into the starting role she held before her absence, and was named to the 12-player Team USA squad for Rugby Sevens’ debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games.
Megan Rapinoe (USA, soccer, 5’6″, 31)
American professional soccer midfielder/winger who plays for Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League. As a member of the United States women’s national soccer team, she helped the U.S. win gold at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2012 London Olympics. Rapinoe is an advocate for numerous LGBT organizations, including the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Athlete Ally. In 2013, she was awarded the Board of Directors Award by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. She is sponsored by Nike, Samsung and DJO Global, and has appeared in multiple promotional pieces for clothing company Wildfang, as well as for Nike.
Helen Richardson-Walsh (Great Britain, field hockey, 5’5″, 34)
English field hockey player, she is a member of both the England and Great Britain women’s field hockey teams. Richardson married Great Britain and England teammate Kate Walsh and both changed their last name to match.
Kate Richardson-Walsh (Great Britain, field hockey, 5’7″, 36)
English field hockey player, she is currently the captain for Great Britain and England hockey teams. An active sports person she is twice a winner of the Hockey Writers Club UK Player of the Year. Walsh married Great Britain and England teammate Helen Richardson and both changed their last name to match.
Caroline Seger (Sweden, soccer, 5’9″, 31)
Swedish footballer who plays as a midfielder for the Sweden women’s national football team and Paris Saint-Germain of the French Division 1 Féminine. She serves as captain for her club and national team. Seger is an out lesbian, telling QX magazine in December 2013 that she was proud of her girlfriend. In previous years Seger had concealed her orientation, but decided to speak out to be a role model for others.
Caster Semenya (South Africa, track & field, 5’10”, 25)
Semenya was born with reproductive anatomy that doesn’t fit into the world’s typical binary view of gender. Semenya was granted permission to continue to compete as a female.
Melissa Tancredi (Canada, soccer, 5’9″, 34)
Canadian soccer forward who plays for the Canada women’s national soccer team. She won an Olympic bronze medal as a participating member of Canada’s national team at the 2012 Olympics.
Susannah Townsend (Great Britain, field hockey, 5’7″, 27)
British field hockey player, she competed for England in the women’s hockey tournament at the 2014 Commonwealth Games where she won a silver medal.
Sunette Stella Viljoen (South Africa, javelin, 5’7″, 32)
South African javelin champion Sunette Viljoen, says she has been ostracized by many of her friends and family after meeting her soul mate and coming out as gay. “In the same week that I had so much grief and hurt, God sent a patch for my wounds in the form of love. On August 15, 2012 Limari Louw crossed my path. We have no doubt that God had sent us each other on that day exactly. As they say love comes like a thief in the night and the heart does not let it be dictated.”
Marieke van der Wal (Netherlands, handball, 6′, 36)
Dutch handball goalkeeper, she plays on the Dutch national team and participated at the 2011 World Women’s Handball Championship in Brazil.
Jeffrey Wammes (Netherlands, gymnastics, 5’7″, 29)
The Dutch gymnast has been a competitive force since 2005. His best events are floor exercise and vault. In 2011, Wammes appeared in an edition of Linda Magazine focused on gay athletes and stated, “There was already a lot of speculation about whether or not I like boys or girls. To me, it has nothing to do with sport or how I perform. But when I was asked to do this, I made it clear straight away how things were and that’s that.”
Spencer Wilton (Great Britain, equestrian, 6′, 43)
The only openly gay Olympian in Team GB helped his equestrian team secure gold at the London Olympics. Wilton is openly gay, and was previously in a relationship with international dressage rider Carl Hester.
**Victor Gutierrez, a Spanish water polo player, was originally on the list, but he announced that he is not going to Rio.
A number of LGBT athletes will also compete in the Paralympics after the Olympics. Angela Madsen will compete for Team USA in track and field, and Jen Armbruster and Aysa Miller will compete for the USA in team goal ball. Lee Pearson will return to the Olympics in equestrian. Moran Samuel will represent Israel in rowing. Claire Harvey will represent Britain in track and field.