Women LGBT athletes rule in sports
We’re glad to see that while the recently-concluded Rio Olympics had the most number of LGBT players in history, the US national team also had eight women LGBT athletes.
According to OutSports, there was a record 53 out LGBT athletes that competed in the Games. Of the 554 athletes of the US Olympic Team, eight of them were openly-out LGBT– and all of them women, as previously mentioned.
Women LGBT athletes out and winning
Of the eight athletes, two were members of the rugby team, one a part of the soccer team, one competed in the kayak whitewater slalom, and four were members of the women’s national basketball team.
The first four are, respectively: Kelly Griffin, Jillion Potter, Megan Rapinoe, and Ashley Nee. The four basketball athletes are Seimone Augustus, Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, and Angel McCoughtry.
The US women’s basketball team was largely unbeaten in their quest for the Olympic gold, beating Spain in the finals.
All four of the basketball players are members of the WNBA and have identified themselves as openly lesbian. This is not a surprise as female sports communities like the WNBA have been more open in promoting LGBT rights and acceptance.
“Within our team, most people are comfortable with players freely expressing who they are. When I entered the league, I met these women and got to know them. I learned who was straight and who wasn’t, it’s no secret. It’s just not something that is always in a press release,” Washington Mystics’ player Stefani Dolson told ESPN.
Why there are more women LGBT athletes out?
So how come the US Olympic Team LGBT athletes are primarily women? Where are the American gay athletes both at the Games– and in the larger sports world?
Jason Page of NBC News asked that same question about LGBT male athletes in an op-ed. With regard to male athletes afraid of losing advertising support, Page pointed out: “Endorsement dollars? Many companies are courting the LGBTQ community these days. They want our money. They need our money.”
He added that despite social movements like You Can Play that has created awareness for wider acceptance in the sports world, the problem may generally lie with the agents that represent the athletes, as well as team general managers and owners.
Meanwhile, Griner said in an interview with USA Today: “I would love to see more (come out) on the men’s side, more players feel comfortable to come out. But I also understand it because as a player, I’ve been that person where it’s really hard to come out.”
“Female athletes have been ahead of the men in terms of coming out publicly for years. Part of that is that there are more lesbian and bisexual women in elite-level sports than there are gay and bisexual men,” Cyd Zeigler of OutSports told Upworthy.
“That means not just more athletes and coaches to come out, but also a larger support structure within the sport for LGBT women than the men. Plus you have an overall broader cultural acceptance of gay and bisexual women than men have,” Zeigler said.