For the first time, at least 186 competitors competing in the Tokyo Summer Olympics were openly LGBTQ.
More than three times as many openly LGBT athletes will compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo as in the 2016 Rio Games.
Tokyo’s number of openly LGBTQ competitors surpasses the total number of openly LGBTQ athletes who have competed in all last Summer and Winter Olympics combined.
When it comes to sports and culture, more and more people are coming out as gay or lesbian. Athletes now have a platform to openly share their life on social media, particularly on Instagram, and connect with their fans personally.
According to Outsports, there were 23 publicly out Olympians at the 2012 Summer Games and 56 at the 2016 Summer Games.
As Canadian swimmer Markus Thormeyer told Outsports, “Competing at the Olympics as an openly homosexual athlete is remarkable.” Thormeyer came out as homosexual in a 2020 piece for Outsports, and he was not out while he competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
I participated with the finest in the world at the largest international multi-sport games as my most true self, which shows how far we’ve come on inclusion in sport.” In participating in these Games, I hope to demonstrate to the LGBTQ community that we belong and are capable of achieving everything we set our minds to.
Elissa Alarie, a Canadian rugby player, mirrored his remarks. Alarie contacted us and informed us that she was LGBTQ. Therefore we put her in our database (she also gave us the names of three teammates we added).
Athletes or LGBTQ people were unknown to Alarie as a child growing up in a rural Quebecois community. As a result of this greater visibility, I believe that young people will feel more at home and that communities will be more inviting and inclusive.”
At least 30 countries sent at least one openly transgender athlete to compete in 34 different sports this year, including the first trans-Olympians.
There were 36 athletes from the United States at these Olympics or nearly 5% of all those who attended. Team USA was followed by Brazil (18), Canada (18), the Netherlands (17), Britain (16), Australia (14), and New Zealand (14) in the number of publicly out LGBTQ athletes (10). We will update the stats as we learn more about the current Olympic athletes.
Athletes training with the squad and traveling to Tokyo are counted as part of this total.
Women dominate males on the list by nearly a 9-to-1 margin, with more than 40 out of players in women’s soccer. There has been a noticeable increase in female athletes competing at the highest level in non-Olympic sports.
Outsports’ list of LGBTQ Olympians only includes athletes who have publicly stated their sexual orientation or gender identity in the media or on their public social media accounts.
To be featured on this list, someone must be openly living their life as an out person on social media, especially if they have made it known they are in a same-sex relationship.
We collaborate with Tony Scupham-Bilton, an LGBT historian who runs the site The Queerstory Files, to construct the most comprehensive list available. Each athlete has a link below to some aspect of their public outing.
Outsports, based in the United States, is aware that we may have overlooked some players, particularly those who are not American citizens.