Thanks to these prominent athletes who are gay, the sports world is becoming more and more accepting of homosexual players. Whether these famous Olympians, tennis greats, and basketball players came out after they retired, or revealed their sexuality during their sports careers, they’ve paved the way for major LGTB sports progress.
Who is the most famous gay athlete? Football star Michael Sam made headlines in 2014 when he became the first openly gay athlete to be drafted into the NFL. But he definitely wasn’t the first homosexual athlete to find success. Olympic diver Greg Louganis is openly gay. He came out publicly in 1995 on The Oprah Show. And tennis star Billie Jean King was the first female athlete to publicly come out way back in 1981.
NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay in an interview with Sports Illustrated magazine in 2013. He was the first active athlete to come out as gay in any of the major American sports. His announcement provoked mixed reactions from his fellow players and the media.
Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, who is perhaps best known for adoping puppies during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, came out as gay in 2015. He Tweeted the simple pronouncement, “I am gay.”
Olympic diver Greg Louganis is openly gay. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. He married his partner Johnny Chaillo in 2013.
Billie Jean King
Tennis great Billie Jean King became the first prominent female professional athlete to come out as gay back in 1981.
WNBA player Sheryl Swoopes announced that she was gay in 2005. She stated, “it doesn’t change who I am. I can’t help who I fall in love with. No one can.” In 2011, she revealed that she was currently dating a man and believed that being gay was a choice.
In conjunction with being appointed to the United States delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, figure skater Brian Boitano publicly came out as gay.
Tennis great Martina Navratilova came out publicly in 1981. She is an outspoken advocate for gay rights.
Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir is openly gay. He previously declined to talk about his personal life in the media, but he decided to publicly announce that he was gay in 2011. He said, “With people killing themselves and being scared into the closet, I hope that even just one person can gain strength from my story.”
Michael Sam made headlines in 2014 when he became the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL. President Obama said he, “congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation’s journey” and that “[f]rom the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are.”
Image: New York Times
Emile Griffith was bisexual. He said, “I like men and women both. But I don’t like that word: homosexual, gay or faggot. I don’t know what I am. I love men and women the same, but if you ask me which is better… I like women.”
Distance swimmer Diana Nyad is openly gay. She said, “I think I was gay from day one.”
NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay in an interview with Sports Illustrated magazine in 2013. He is the first active athlete to come out as gay in any of the major American sports. His announcement provoked mixed reactions from his fellow players and the media.
American soccer player Abby Wambach is openly gay. She said, “I can’t speak for other people, but for me, I feel like gone are the days that you need to come out of a closet. I never felt like I was in a closet. I never did. I always felt comfortable with who I am and the decisions I made.”
Wade Davis played in the NFL and NFL Europe from 2000-2003. He publicly came out as gay in 2012 and now works as an advocate for gay rights.
Tennis player Renee Richards was born Richard Richards and underwent sex reassignment surgery later in life. She made history in 1977 when she disputed a decision excluding her from the US Open. The Supreme Court agreed with Richards and she became an inspiration to the LGBT community.
John Amaechi is the first former NBA player to come out as gay. His fellow NBA players had mixed reactions to Amaechi’s sexual orientation.
American speed skater Chris Witty is openly gay. She lives with her partner Frouke Oonk.
Golfer Rosie Jones publicly came out as gay in 2004, but she had been out to her family and friends for many years.
Tennis star Lisa Raymond is openly gay. She said, “I came out because I knew that there would be life after tennis, and being gay and playing tennis is not a big deal. There have been a lot of women in sports that have come out, and it’s not seen as anything ‘wow’.”
American Hockey Player Caitlin Cahow is openly gay. She was chosen to be part of the delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Olympic soccer player Megan Rapinoe came out as gay in 2012. She has been in a relationship with Australian soccer player Sarah Walsh for three years.
Bodybuilder Chris Dickerson came out as gay in the 1970s.
Olympic soccer player Natasha Kai is openly gay.
Bruce Hayes is the first Olympian to compete at the Gay Games. He came out in 1990, in conjunction with the competition.
Kwame Harris played in the NFL from 2003-2008. He publicly came out as gay in 2013. Later that year, he was convicted on misdemeanor counts of domestic violence, assault and battery against his ex-boyfriend, Dimitri Geier.
Olympic softball player Lauren Lappin is openly gay.
Olympic ice dancer Ryan O’Meara is openly gay. He works as an interior designer when not training for competitions.
WNBA player Brittney Griner publicly came out in 2013. She now works to stop bullying of LGBT teens.
Olympic figure skater Ronald Robertson was gay.
Rudy Galindo came out publicly in 1996. In 2000, he announced that he is HIV positive.
Lori Lindsey came out publicly in 2012 and is in a relationship with Sally Shipard.
Tennis player Ilana Kloss is openly gay. She is the partner of fellow tennis star Billie Jean King.
Patty Sheehan is the first LPGA player to publicly come out as gay. She and her partner Rebecca Gaston have two children.
Glenn Burke played in the MLB from 1976-1979. Burke was the first MLB player to come out as gay. He died due to complications with AIDS in 1995.