American Olympic bobsledder Christopher Kinney competed in the 2018 Olympics, where he also came out to his teammates as bisexual. By being unapologetically and proudly who he is, he hopes to inspire young LGBTQ+ athletes to do the same. Today he joins us as an Athlete Ally Ambassador and shares his story with us below.
Athlete Ally: What have running and bobsled meant to you, and how did you fall in love with these sports?
Christopher: Running track and field is my first love. When I’m running, I’m completely in touch with my body — I’m present, in the moment and just content. Running translated into bobsled, where I’m very much still in the moment while simultaneously being afraid for my life, praying we don’t crash. Jokes aside, bobsled let me experience speed and adrenaline while getting to travel to beautiful places.
How did you come to realize you were bisexual?
I think I’ve always known since I was a kid. But I came to be able to reason and understand my feelings when I was in 6th grade.
What are some of the specific challenges you’ve faced in and out of sport as an out bisexual man?
Dating has always been difficult with women because of the taboo around being attracted to men. In sport I always felt I had to prove my masculinity through beating other straight guys athletically. Bobsled was difficult to be myself because of the political aspect of the sport. Having to sneak around the team was exhausting. Finally being able to be myself made things so much easier.
What difference would it have made in your life to have had out bisexual pro athletes to look up to?
It would have been amazing to have someone to look up to growing up. I think younger people need to see themselves in their role models and imagine themselves in these spaces.
What do you see as the major barriers to LGBTQI+ inclusion in sport, and how can we as a society address them?
In “macho” sports I think there is still very much a stigma against gay and bi men. Not all teammates are this way, but it is still very much a scary environment to be yourself in. I would very much like to see more LGBT athletes as well as coaches and leaders in sport.
More recently the attack on trans women has been an issue I’ve seen that I think needs addressing. Trans women especially are being attacked and made to be a problem in sport out of ignorance.
The Tokyo Olympics may be the first Olympics we see out transgender athletes competing, and also marks a longstanding push for a LGBT non-discrimination law in Japan. How do you hope to see values of inclusion and equality reflected in this year’s Olympic games?
I would love to see trans women compete. I know it’ll be a hard road [to get to the Olympics], but they have my support and the support of a whole larger community. I think the Olympics has the duty to promote both inclusion and fairness in sport. I hope to meet these trailblazers and fan out in Tokyo.
Photos courtesy of Christopher Kinney
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