Even though the Tokyo Olympic games were postponed for a year due to the pandemic, they were well worth the wait to see so many LGBTQ+ athletes compete on the world’s greatest stage.
This was the first time the games saw not just one out transgender or non-binary athlete compete but four: weightlifter Laurel Hubbard from New Zealand, Quinn from the Canadian women’s soccer team, skateboarder Alana Smith and BMX alternate Chelsea Wolf, both from the United States. The International Olympics Committee first allowed trans athletes to compete alongside other Olympians of their correct gender in 2003 — and this year, Quinn broke barriers not only by participating but as part of the gold-medal winning Canadian women’s soccer team.
We’re using Outsports’ definition of being out, which means the athlete has either stated they are LGBTQ+ in a media interview or has clearly indicated they are a part of the LGBTQ+ community on at least one of their public social media profiles. There were nearly two dozen Olympians whom readers have suggested be added to the ranks of Team LGBTQ+ but did not meet the criteria of being publicly out, according to Outsports.
Team LGBTQ+ would have come in 7th place overall if they were a country — higher than any country that currently criminalizes homosexuality.
(about half placed within the top 5 for their events)
Photo 1 of Tuany Priscila by: Takehiko Suzuki / AP Images, Photo 2 of Mareike Miller and Bo Kramer by: Marcus Brandt / AP Images.
At the Paralympics, there were 36 athletes on Team LGBTQ+, almost triple the number from the 2016 Rio Paralympics. They took home 25 medals: 10 gold, 11 silver and 4 bronze, which ranked them 15th overall. They represented a total of 10 countries and 14 sports, resulting in a spectacular showcase of how talented LGBTQ+ athletes are when given a chance to freely be who they are.
There were three non-binary Paralympians: Laura Goodkind of USA’s rowing team, Robyn Lambird of Australia’s track & field team and Maz Strong of Australia’s seated shot put team. Robyn Lambird won a bronze medal, becoming the first-ever openly out non-binary Paralympian to win a medal.
“Kids can’t be what they can’t see, you know, and it can be really scary," said Lambird, reflecting on their importance in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. "If you don’t have anyone else to look up to, you can feel so alone. So I think it’s really important for those people that are claiming to be diverse, that they include disability, that they include gender-diverse people, because our society is so rich and diverse.”
There were a number of notable and record-breaking achievements by Team LGBTQ+ at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, including Sir Lee Pearson of Great Britain's Equestrian team (para dressage event) who took home three gold medals, bringing his lifetime Paralympic gold medal count to 14 — the 14th highest personal gold medal count ever. Also, Team Britain’s Crystal Lane-Wright (cycling) took home three silver medals.
The Olympics and Paralympics are about the world coming together, and that includes our openly LGBTQ+ athletes. Because of these athletes who have put a spotlight on LGBTQ+ visibility, millions of LGBTQ+ kids were able to see what's possible.
10 gold, 11 silver and 4 Bronze