LGBTQ+ History Month 2021: Athletes

by Jesse St. Andre

As we continue to spotlight LGBTQ+ superstars, this week we’re focusing on athletes! As trans kids especially find themselves under attack by state legislators in several states, there has never been a more important time to show what LGBTQ+ athletes stars are contributing.

Tom Daley is an Olympic diver from Great Britain. He has participated in three Olympic games (2012, 2016, and 2020) and is the only British diver to have 4 Olympic medals. During the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Russian state media made disparaging remarks on live TV about LGBTQ+ athletes in general and Daley specifically. He responded by saying that he is fortunate to be representing Great Britain when he knows that in 10 countries that compete in the Olympics, simply being LGBTQ+ can be punishable with death.

In October 2021, Daley announced that he was going to make it his mission to ensure that “countries [where it’s] punishable by death for LGBT people are not allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.” His hope is to get the prohibition enacted by the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic games.


Sue Bird &Megan Rapinoe are professional athletes who announced their engagement on October 30, 2020.

Sue is a professional basketball player who currently plays for the Seattle Storm. This past summer, she played on Team USA at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games where she won her fifth gold medal.

Megan is a professional soccer player who was on Team USA’s team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where they took bronze. She has championed LGBTQ+ equality throughout her career, most recently by being a vocal opponent of the dulege of legislation that would bar trans kids from participating in sports.

Laura Goodkind is a nonbinary Paralympian on Team USA’s rowing crew. She was one of three out nonbinary Paralympians in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games. She is an advocate for the non-binary community, and tries to show that we can all “transcend labels and situations” through all that she does.


In June 2021, Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. He came out in an Instagram video on his personal profile, which was met with overwhelming support from across the country.


Raven Saunders is an Olympic track and field athlete who represented Team USA in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the shot put and discus throw, where she won a silver medal.

Raven is openly lesbian, and has championed a variety of causes including mental health and racial justice. On the medalists’ platform at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, she raised her arms in a X to represent, in her own words, “It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”


Laurel Hubbard was the first trans woman to qualify for the Olympics. Representing New Zealand, Hubbard is a weightlifter who competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics’ 87+kg class weightlifting event. While she didn’t medal, she broke barriers and did her sport and the community proud.


Toni Deion Pressley is a professional soccer player who currently plays for the Orlando Pride team. She played for various U.S. National youth teams from the time she was 16 and has played soccer for various teams since.

She is engaged to Orlando Pride teammate Marta Vieira da Silva.


Mara Gomez is the first trans professional soccer player in Argentina. She describes her struggle to become a part of the women’s league as “a collective battle, a social battle to fight for inclusion.” To her, transitioning and her overall journey to where she is now also allowed her to become a better soccer player.


CeCé Telfer is a track and field sprinter who became the first trans person to win an NCAA title in 2019. Prior to that victory, she had been transitioning for two years. The entire time, she was met with criticism, outrage and harassment. She persisted, and her next goal is to compete in the Olympics.


Chris Mosier is a trans athlete who founded, a website that documents different state, regional, national and international rules on trans people’s participation in athletics, both inclusive and exclusionary. In 2015, he challenged the International Olympics Committee’s rules on trans athletes’ criteria for participating in Olympic games and won, leading to the current IOC rules for trans athletes.

He continues to advocate for trans inclusion in sports at all levels.


These are just 10 out of countless LGBTQ+ athletes - the complete contributions they’ve made to the sporting world is immeasurable.

However, future contributions run the risk of being limited - particularly for trans athletes - if legislation like TX HB 25 is allowed to be passed unchallenged. We must make our voices heard: Trans kids belong in sports. Full stop.