These athletes are living their most authentic lives!
For a variety of reasons, it can be extremely hard for professional athletes to come out as LGBTQ+ in their personal lives.
For one, sports are largely dominated by straight cis men who have been notoriously homophobic and transphobic according to numerous stories from LGBTQ+ athletes. The culture of so-called “locker room talk” has been riddled with hatred for queer and trans people – and it’s not a particularly well-kept secret.
Given that many sports teams and athletes make money from corporate sponsorships, it can be tricky for a person to come out at the risk of being dropped by an existing or potential sponsor. There are also reports of sports fans refusing to buy merch branded with the name of an LGBTQ+ athlete, which can potentially hurt merch sales for a team.
Trans people specifically are also facing a major obstacle as of late: being excluded from even being able to compete in leagues or championships due to their gender identity. Several sports have already pushed back against the notion that trans men can compete in men’s sports and that trans women can compete in women’s sports, which is heartbreaking.
But against all odds, our community is continuously making progress in the world of competitive sports, and we have a few out LGBTQ+ athletes to thank. Progress is being made every time an LGBTQ+ athlete chooses to come out and normalizes our existence/visibility in sports.
Scroll through to learn more about the athletes who have come out as LGBTQ+ in 2022.
The British distance swimmer and Olympian publicly came out as gay in June after competing at the World Championships in Budapest.
“I was adjusting to everything else, just trying to fit in — until I thought, ‘Just be you,’” Jervis told the BBC’s LGBT Sport Podcast.
“You know, we’re just before the Commonwealth Games, and there are going to be kids and adults watching who will know that I’m like them and that I’m proud of who I am,” he continued. “Now is a good time for me because the Commonwealth Games is in a month’s time, and there’s going to be a lot of people watching that, and there are so many countries in the Commonwealth where being gay is illegal. And for me to be [visible] on that stage and to inspire people is what I’m here to do.”
Photo: Instagram (@danieljervis1)
Professional rugby player Toby Rudolf opened up about sexual fluidity and his personal dating history, including who he has kissed, in a July interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. The 26-year-old Australian rugby star and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks teammate got frank about sexuality, saying: “Sexuality is very fluid. I’ve been out and kissed many gay men, kissed many straight women, and kissed many gay women.”
“I’m not a one-stop shop. Love is love, and I love to share it with everyone. That’s probably why I love going to all the gay bars in Sydney as well. I love dancing with my shirt off and getting down Universal on Oxford Street until 2 a.m.”
Photo: Instagram (@tobyrudolf)
Minor League baseball player publicly came out as gay in an emotional August Instagram post. The 25-year-old athlete and former Richmond Flying Squirrels player revealed to his fans and followers that while he is no longer playing for the team, which is part of the San Francisco Giants system, he is thankful for the time he had and isn’t giving up on his love of baseball, especially as an out, gay man.
“Being gay in this sport, you don’t know what comes at you!” he wrote. “I thank the Giants for giving me the opportunity to be myself and go out there and play the game that I love the most. I’m still in shock on what just happened. But I’m not giving up on what I want to do.”
“I’m still going to open up doors for gay athletes like me. Still will strive to be one of the greatest to do it. I ended on a high note from getting hurt to going out there and pitching my ass off. Baseball I’m not done with you. I’m leaving on my terms and my terms only. Gay men can play a manly sport if you give us a chance to. Thank you, Giants, you guys made a new fan. But gave me a chip to keep going. I love all the new friends that I’ve made. I’m not going to cry. I’m going to keep pushing.”
Photo: Instagram (@solomonbates)
The Aussie Olympic gold medalist and rugby player came out as a trans man in an August video for the Bingham Cup‘s International Summit Tackling Transphobia and Homophobia in Sport event.
“I promised myself that when my rugby career ended, I would continue to live the rest of my life in the identity and the body that I that I know I am meant to be in,” he said.
“Being open about my gender identity is a really difficult thing to do these days. All you have to do is turn on the TV, look on social media platforms, and you can see the amount of bullying, harm, and discrimination that goes on about gender identities. It’s extremely harmful, so for someone to be open and honest about their identity to the public eye is absolutely daunting.”
Photo: Instagram (@elliagreen)
The Scottish pro footballer and Gala Fairydean Rovers player publicly came out as gay in a September interview posted to his football club’s official website.
“I put a post on my social media telling folk I was gay,” he said of the decision. “I didn’t need to sit the boys down in the changing room and tell them.”
Photo: Good Morning Britain
Australian basketball player Isaac Humphries wrote an op-ed in November 2022 coming out as a gay man. The lengthy letter detailed how Humphries struggled with his sexual orientation over the years but has now chosen to live as his authentic self.
“Over my entire career, there was no reality that existed where I could be an openly gay man while playing basketball,” the basketball player wrote. “Until now.”
“You can be a gay man and an elite basketball player in one of the best leagues in the world. I’m living proof of that. My journey to get to this point in my life was harder than it should’ve been, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Without those dark points, I wouldn’t have been thrust into situations where I had to explore, discover, and learn to accept who I really am.”
Photo: Instagram (@isaachumphries7)
Tennis player Fabien Reboul appears to have come out in December after sharing a picture kissing French athlete Maxence Broville. The photo in question was shared via Instagram Story. Though some questioned whether this was a joke, many assumed that the tennis player has indeed come out.
“I did not fall in love with you, your love pushed me to it,” Reboul wrote in the Instagram post.
Photo: Instagram (@fabienreboul)
Two-time gold Olympic medalist Laurie Hernandez came out in an Instagram post shared in December 2022. The artistic gymnast, who also appeared in season 23 of Dancing With the Stars and ended up winning the competition, shared a picture with her girlfriend celebrating their two-year anniversary.
“2 whole years! can u believe it!!” Hernandez wrote in the post.
Photo: Instagram (@lauriehernandez)
TJ House, a former athlete who played for the Major League Baseball (MLB), not only came out as gay but also announced that he’s engaged.
“I’ve struggled my entire life with being comfortable in my own skin,” House wrote on Facebook. “I’ve been loved my whole life for what I did as a career, and it carried me for the longest time. Eventually, though, it’s a bandage that covers a wound that needs fresh air to heal. You have to rip it off at some point if you truly want to get better. Shame has kept me quiet all these years, but Love has finally set me free.”
“Today’s passage of the Respect for Marriage Act protects us to have the same rights and opportunities that each of you have. It protects the same benefits. It makes us equal to you. It allows Ryan Neitzel and I to come together and create something beautiful. It gives me the confidence to get engaged to the person I love (he said ‘Yes!’), to marry them. I have a wonderful fiancé, who challenges me daily to become a better person. To live life authentically.”
Source – Out