22 LGBTQ Olympic athletes to cheer for at the 2021 Olympics
Explore LGBTQ Olympic athletes to watch for at the 2021 Olympics. Our list includes trailblazers like Sue Bird, Hailey Danz, Julian Venonsky and Alana Smith.
Erica BougardA true all-arounder, heptathlete Erica Bougard will compete for Team USA after placing third at the U.S. Olympic trials. Bougard, who will turn 27, during the Olympics, will compete in seven events: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter run, long jump, javelin and 800-meter run.
In addition to being an accomplished athlete, Bougard is also a proud LGBTQ advocate andone of the stars of Nike’s “Be True” campaignalong with Adrianna Franch and Tierna Davidson. “I’m going to be myself no matter what and let people know,” she told Nike. “I let the track community know that this is me, this is who I am. This is who I've always been.”
Julian VenonskyVenonsky, a coxswain, is set to lead the U.S. men’s eight team, which finished fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 27-year-old steersman and rower opened up about how his personal life unexpectedly strengthened his athletic focus while rowing for U.C. Berkeley in an episode of the headtopics.com
Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast. “Halfway through my college career, my sophomore year, I started actually thinking about dating or what kind of my life I wanted to look like and I found my boyfriend on Tinder … and that kind of was a little a-ha moment for me that kind of allowed me to really dive into rowing and coxswain even more and really go after it from 2014 on and that’s kind of where I found a lot of my success,” he said.
Alana SmithSkateboarding joins BMX freestyle in making its Olympic debut this year in Tokyo and skateboarder Alana Smith is ready for their spotlight. Smith, who has been skating since they were young, is already accomplished, having achieved major milestones like
in competition back in 2012.Smith, 20, identifies as nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns,according to their Twitter. On Instagram, Smith opened up about focusing on their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. “My abusive biological mother molded me to be this always happy, long blonde hair, hyper feminine kid… and that was never actually me. So through the pandemic I really took the time to learn about myself and find the human I am, a nonbinary individual,” they wrote in an
Instagram caption. “With that said, I got really emotional at the press conference because this was one: my moment of coming out to the world but two: I get to unapologetically be me for the first time in my entire life… despite lots of people telling me I would never get here if I stayed true to who I really am. Whether you’re out or not, I want you to know you’re loved, accepted and I’m doing this for YOU.” headtopics.com
Alexis SabloneSmith’s teammate, Alexis Sablone, 34, is a decorated X Games medalist and also poised to shine in Tokyo. Sablone, whoidentifies as queer, has expressed mixed feelings about skateboarding — long embraced as an example of counterculture — becoming an Olympic sport but at the same time, is excited to compete. “Although it doesn't really fit why I started or what skateboarding's about, it's a huge honor. It's a crazy life opportunity. And it's just something that I want to do, if I can,”
last year.Kendall ChaseRower Kendall Chase is making her first trip to the Olympics this year as part of the women’s four team. Like Venonsky, Chase rowed on the collegiate level for U.C. Berkeley and graduated in 2016.The 26-year-old opened up earlier this month about making Team USA and achieving her Olympic dreams. “As I pack up for the Olympics, with all of my gear blaring the big USA, I can’t help but feel mixed feelings,”
she wrote on Instagram. “I am SO incredibly proud and honored to have been given this opportunity to represent my country, but I can’t ignore the fact that the country that I’m representing has a long history of oppression and systemic racism. Although I may have a wave of patriotism over the next month, it goes without a doubt that I will continue to fight and advocate for BIPOC, Queer and Trans people.”
Gia DoonanU.S. women’s eight team, which is fighting to win a fourth Olympic medal.The 27-year-old has shared with fans that she is in a relationship with girlfriend Gina Pellechio. “Due to the increased homophobia directed towards me recently and also in the country, I have never felt more empowered,” headtopics.com
. “I am so glad these h8ers are thinking about us more than ever. I mean I understand, hating on other people helps distract you from your own self loathing. Feeling happy and loved. Respond to hate with kindness.”Jessica ThoennesA teammate of Doonan’s on the women’s eight team, Jessica Thoennes is making both her Olympic and global championship debut in Tokyo. According to The Seattle Times, the 25-year-old
six years ago while in college at the University of Washington.Meghan O'LearyMeghan O'Leary is returning for her second Olympics after making her debut at the 2016 Rio Games, where she placed sixth. The 36-year-old, who only started rowing professionally after college, will compete in the women’s quadruple sculls in Tokyo.
O’Leary opened up about journey to self-acceptance last year in an interview with Before College TV. “I could not control the way I felt, the uneasiness and sort of, really, the self-hate I had about my sexuality ... and that led to a deep-seated hate and unhappiness,” she said, after revealing her self-hatred had contributed to an eating disorder. O’Leary credited a friend who helped her accept herself. “For me, it was one of my best friends who I made in college. She saw me for who I was right away. I thought I was a good pretender. I remember I was hiding, like I had a friend back home. It was really, I didn’t even call her my girlfriend at the time but she called me out on it because she wanted me to know that it was OK.”
Ellen TomekO'Leary’s teammate, Ellen Tomek, will also row in the women’s quadruple sculls. Tokyo will be her third trip to the Olympics. A decorated world medalist, Tomek placed fifth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and sixth at the 2016 Rio Games and
l in her final Olympics run before she retires.Honorable mentions from other countries:Laurel HubbardLaurel Hubbardmade headlines in June when she became the first transgender athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The New Zealander is a weightlifter who will represent her home country and at 43, she will also be the oldest weightlifter at the games, competing in the women’s 87-kilogram plus division.
The 2017 World Championship silver medalist came back from anelbow injury in 2018that some thought would end her weightlifting career. In addition, Hubbard has had to face criticism from others, including some within the weightlifting community, who say she has an unfair advantage over other women when it comes to strength and physiology. Hubbard responded in 2017 to critics, telling the
New Zealand news website Stuff, “All you can do is focus on the task at hand and if you keep doing that it will get you through. I'm mindful I won't be supported by everyone but I hope that people can keep an open mind and perhaps look at my performance in a broader context. … Perhaps the fact that it has taken so long for someone like myself to come through indicates that some of the problems that people are suggesting aren’t what they might seem.”
QuinnCanadian soccer player Quinn is Megan Rapinoe’s Seattle Reign teammate and is returning for her second Olympics run. The 25-year-old midfielder uses they/them pronouns and is originally from Toronto. In aninterview with BBC Read more: »
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TODAYshow I'll be sure to root against them 😉 TODAYshow Zero interest in this yawning TODAYshow StateMedia 🦚 TODAYshow Please stop pushing the agenda, especially while trying to sell a failing Olympics. Please! TODAYshow This tweet is an example of discrimination!!! Nobody is better than other due their sexual orientation! ALL are athletes!
TODAYshow I wonder why NBCNews discriminate other people by mentioning their condition? Are they listing how many homosexuals, binary, bio, X, whatever else is participating in the USA team? At the end we have men and women participating! The sexual/mental stage is irrelevant! Why separate out the athletes to cheer for? Why not let us all cheer for all the athletes.
Nope....disrespect deserves shame......not praise..... Why not cheer for EVERYONE?! kinda hard to read that on mobile and desktop just fyi
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