Peep These 5 Queer Athletes Competing In The Rio Olympics
Historically, the Olympics has rarely welcomed its openly out queer competitors. During the 2014 Sochi Olympics, LGBTQ athletes were outwardly discriminated against under the repressive thumb of Russian leader Vladimir Putin; even amid the Torino 2006 Winter Olympics, protesters rallied against queer participation in the ancient sporting festivities. Since these times, the International Olympics Committee has implemented a clause making the games (and the countries who host them) more accepting of all athletes—regardless of race, religion, politics, gender or sexual identity.
With this new clause in place, it’s no surprise that the Summer 2016 Rio Olympics are really, really queer—there are 42 publicly out LGBTQ athletes set to compete, the most ever for a single Olympics. The Rio Olympics is breaking records all around within its representation: there are ten openly out gay men competing, a same-sex married couple and three queer coaches. It’s about time the LGBTQ community had some good news. So, prior to the opening ceremony on August 5th, peep these five noteworthy athletes you should be rooting for, who are out and proud.
Megan Rapinoe, USA
Having just recovered from an ACL injury, Megan Rapinoe is joining the U.S. Women’s soccer team as one of the reigning best midfielders in the world. Rapinoe has been out since 2012, and is now engaged to her singer-songwriter girlfriend, Sera Cahoone. If you’re unfamiliar with her record-breaking field goals, you might remember Rapinoe by her stunning feature within ESPN’s Body Issue, wherein she loses her cleats and shows us what real sculpted definition looks like.
No words can express how special it is to represent your country at the Olympics. Thank you to everyone who has been with me on this slightly unique path to this years Games. This feels like a group effort of incredible people I will be forever grateful for. This selection is incredibly special and emotional for me. I will wear the Stars and Stripes with immense pride and joy. I'm going to RIO. #beyourbestyou
Nicola Adams, Great Britain
Thirty-three year old Nicola Adams gained worldwide recognition after snagging the title of Olympic Boxing Champion in 2012. Adams is returning to the Olympics this year—with no intention of giving up her current ranking as the first woman ever to win an Olympic boxing title. After coming out as bisexual many years ago, Adams told the Huffington Post, “I get tweets and messages all the time saying, ‘by seeing you coming out it has helped me come out as well.”
Tom Daley, Great Britain
Heartthrob and British diver Tom Daley came out as bisexual back in 2013, and later stated that he identifies as a gay man, causing a ruckus within the sports community when he announced his relationship with award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. He’s won plenty of medals for his unconquerable diving abilities, including the bronze Olympic medal in 2012, and plans on winning gold this time around. After garnering a ridiculous amount of followers on social media, Daley was offered the role as a mentor on the UK competitive diving reality TV show Splash!
Nadine Müller, Germany
Nadine Müller is redefining what it means to “throw like a girl.” The German discus athlete has competed in the Olympic games a many times before, but has yet to be victorious; however, this year feels like her real moment to shine. Müller came out as a lesbian in 2014, after she tied the knot with her longtime girlfriend. As she penned in a Facebook post, “I don’t want to hide any longer.”
Caster Semenya, South Africa
Out of all the queer athletes competing this summer, Caster Semenya is probably the most ridiculed and misunderstood. After repeatedly having her gender questioned by fellow athletes and spectators, Semenya was asked to undergo a “gender test” to prove her gender identity and biological sex. Although assigned female at birth, Semenya’s appearance blurs the binary, and given her sexual orientation as a lesbian, critics everywhere have been judgmental of her participation within the Olympics. However, Semenya’s impressive record within track and field speaks for itself: she’s the recipient of the 2011 and 2012 silver medal at the World Championships and won gold in the women’s 800 metres at the 2009 World Championships—not to mention the fact that these attacks are wholly sexist and homophobic, and should certainly be dismissed. So, like, back off, haters.
Stay tuned to Milk for more on queer representation.
Images via. Fight Sports, Out Sports and Zimbio