A record number 142+ out LGBTQ athletes from around the world are competing in Tokyo, more than all previous Olympic and Paralympic Games combined, including the first out transgender athletes to qualify in the 17 years since Olympic policy first welcomed trans participants
Guide will provide facts to support accurate, respectful and inclusive coverage about LGBTQ inclusion in sport and in the Olympics and Paralympics, as well as Japan’s LGBTQ history
GUIDE: “The growing visibility and acceptance of out athletes offers a unique opportunity for global audiences to see LGBTQ people as individuals on the world stage.”
“LGBTQ Olympians have the same basic human need to belong and an elite athlete’s drive to achieve—to represent their respective countries with pride, support, and dignity. The Olympic and Paralympic Games are a celebration of our shared humanity and represent the pinnacle of sports achievement. Including LGBTQ+ athletes in your coverage means exploring all their challenges and triumphs, not just their sexual orientations and gender identities.”
(New York, NY and Tokyo, Japan – July 19, 2021) GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, along with Athlete Ally, a national nonprofit working to elevate and advocate for LGBTQ athletes, and Pride House Tokyo, a consortium and comprehensive LGBTQ center in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo endorsed as an official program of Tokyo 2020, are releasing a “Guide to Covering LGBTQ Athletes at the Summer Olympics and Paralympics” as a resource to journalists and media professionals.
According to OutSports.com, a leading news source on LGBTQ athletes, as of July 19 there are at least 142 out Olympians participating in the Summer Games in Tokyo, a record number that is more than double those at the Rio games in 2016, and more than all previous Olympics combined. A sample listing of out LGBTQ athletes who will be in Tokyo is below.
The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will also make history as the first in which out transgender athletes will participate. The Olympics have had policies to include transgender athletes in all Olympic sports since 2004. The guide provides journalists with best practices for covering transgender and nonbinary athletes, along with contextualizing the challenges facing trans athletes this year. The guide also addresses how issues of equality like race and gender intersect for athletes and spectators.
Powerlifter Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand is the first out transgender athlete to qualify for the Games, among more than 54,000 Olympians and Paralympians who have made it to the Olympics in the last 17 years. BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe is the first openly transgender woman to join the U.S. Olympic team, and is an alternate for the BMX Elite Women’s National Team, which is included for the first time in this year’s Olympics. Quinn, a soccer player on Canada’s National Women’s Soccer Team, came out as transgender and nonbinary in September 2020, making them the first known out nonbinary Olympian.
Statement from GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis:
“The very presence of so many out LGBTQ athletes is remarkable progress and further evidence of the recognition of LGBTQ people around the globe, as well as proof that competing as your authentic self can and does lead to success.This guide will help journalists understand the history of LGBTQ participation in sport and provide facts and context to support accurate, respectful and inclusive coverage, especially of transgender athletes. Every LGBTQ athlete competing this year, as well as the trailblazers who came before them, deserves attention and praise for paving the way for this record-setting year in Tokyo. We will continue to cheer you on and be your greatest champion.”
Statement from Athlete Ally Director of Communications Joanna Hoffman:
“We’re thrilled that this will be a historic Olympic and Paralympic Games for LGBTQ+ representation and visibility. Athlete Ally is proud to partner with GLAAD and Pride House Tokyo in providing the media with the tools to report on LGBTQ athletes responsibly and respectfully. We are witnessing history in the making through these incredible out and proud Olympians and Paralympians, who are showing the world it is possible to be your full self and fulfill your dreams through the sport you love.”
Statement from Pride House Tokyo President Gon Matsunaka:
“We hope that we can all reaffirm the spirit of the Olympic Charter, which states that all people should be given equal opportunity to play sports without discrimination of any kind, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and that the Games will be a celebration of an inclusive sports culture that does not exclude anyone and promotes positive change in society. For this reason, we would be grateful if the media could cooperate in the dissemination of positive information based on accurate facts and free of human rights violations. We also hope that individuals using the Internet and social media will understand the seriousness of the issues faced by transgender people, whether they are openly transgender or not, and the complexity of the matter, and keep to messages that are respectful and they are mindful of how to create a society where everyone can live in peace.”
PARTIAL LIST AND BIOS OF OUT OLYMPIANS and PARALYMPIANS COMPETING IN TOKYO
(as of July 14, 2021, ongoing updates to a more comprehensive list is provided by Outsports)
Sue Bird (she/her, Team USA, Basketball) is an American professional basketball player for the Seattle Storm and a member of Team USA Women’s Basketball. Bird was drafted by the Storm first overall in the 2002 WNBA draft and is considered to be one of the greatest players in WNBA history. She is an out lesbian and engaged to soccer player Megan Rapinoe. Bird is an Athlete Ally Ambassador.
Tom Bosworth (he/him, Team Great Britain, Race Walking) is a British race walking champion with multiple world and national medals who holds six British records. Bosworth is an ardent LGBTQ advocate who came out in 2015, and made headlines for proposing to his now-husband Harry in Rio during the 2016 Olympic Games there.
Isadora Cerullo (she/her, Brazil National Team, Rugby) is a Brazilian-American rugby sevens player on Brazil’s national team. She won a bronze medal at the 2015 Pan American Games. At the 2016 Olympics, where she also competed, her now-wife walked onto the field at Deodoro Stadium and proposed to her. Cerullo is an Athlete Ally Ambassador.
Kendall Chase (she/her, Team USA, Rowing) is a five-time World U23 champion and a World Junior silver medalist. Chase’s US Rowing bio describes her as an LGBTQ advocate who “hopes to help rowers and other LGBTQ+ youth find a safe space within the sport of rowing.” Chase is one of five out members of US National Women’s Rowing Team.
Tom Daley (he/his, Team Great Britain, Diving) is a British diver who has won world, European and Commonwealth titles, and bronze medals at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics. Daley, who identifies as queer, came out in 2013 on YouTube. He married his husband, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, in 2017 and they are raising their 3-year-old, Robert.
Gia Doonan (she/her, Team USA, Rowing) finished third in the the eight at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, and second in two 2019 World Rowing Cup events. Doonan is a World U23 gold medalist.
Edênia Garcia (she/her, Brazil National Team, Swimming) is a Brazilian Paralympic swimmer and an out lesbian. She specializes in the backstroke and has won three Paralympic medals (silver at Athens 2004, bronze at Beijing 2008, silver at London 2012). Learn more.
Brittney Griner (she/her, Team USA, Basketball) is an American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, and a Team USA Women’s Basketball team member. Griner came out publicly as a lesbian in a 2013 Sports Illustrated interview. Together with her Team USA teammate Sue Bird, Griner is one of 11 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team players who have earned an Olympic gold medal, FIBA World Cup gold medal, WNBA title, and NCAA title.
Laurel Hubbard (she/her, New Zealand Olympic Team, Weightlifting) is a New Zealand weightlifter, and on June 21, was announced as the first openly transgender athlete to qualify to compete in the Olympics. Hubbard is part of a team of five weightlifters representing New Zealand in Tokyo, is ranked fourth in her weight category (87 kilos) at the Games, and will be the oldest weightlifter competing at 43.
Robyn Love (she/her, Team Great Britain, Wheelchair Basketball) is a Scottish Paralympic basketball player who made her international debut in Japan at the 2015 Osaka cup, winning silver. Her team also placed fourth in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. Love is an Athlete Ally ambassador.
Meghan O’Leary (she/her, Team USA, Rowing) is a 2016 Olympian, 2017 World Championship silver medalist, and five-time National Team member with the United States Rowing Team. This will be her second Olympic Games. When not competing, O’Leary is a professional motivational speaker and marketing executive.
Quinn (they/them, Team Canada, Soccer [Football]) is a midfielder for OL Reign in the US National Women’s Soccer League (NSWL), and for the Canada women’s national soccer team. Quinn won a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics with Team Canada. In September 2020, Quinn came out as transgender, and on June 23, 2021, Quinn was announced as a member of Canada’s National Team for this year’s Olympics. Quinn is an Athlete Ally Ambassador.
Douglas Souza (he/him, Brazil, Volleyball) is an outside hitter on the Brazilian men’s volleyball team, which is currently ranked number one in the world. Souza’s team took gold at the 2016 Games in Rio along with several other world championships. He often speaks about the importance of being an out LGBTQ+ athlete and advocate in the Brazilian press.
Megan Rapinoe (she/her, Team USA, Soccer [Football]) is a two-time World Cup Champion and co-captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team. Rapinoe led the USWNT to the 2019 Women’s World Cup Championship, scoring some of the biggest goals of the tournament and earning the tournament’s two top honors – the Golden Boot for top scorer, and the Golden Ball for the best player in the tournament. Rapinoe is an out lesbian, engaged to basketball player Sue Bird and an advocate for equality. Rapinoe is an Athlete Ally Ambassador.
Jessica Thoennes (she/her, Team USA, Rowing) is a University of Washington NCAA champion and placed second in the eight at World U23 in 2017.
Ellen Tomek (she/her, Team USA, Rowing) is a decorated champion rower who competed in the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games in double sculls. Tomek has won several medals in the World Rowing Championships and World Rowing Cups in addition to numerous national victories.
Chelsea Wolfe (she/her, Team USA, BMX Freestyle (Alternate) is a Team USA Freestyle BMX athlete. She is the first openly transgender woman to join the U.S. Olympic team, and is an alternate for the BMX Elite Women’s National Team, which is included for the first time in this year’s Olympics. Wolfe is an Athlete Ally Ambassador.
Jack Woolley (he/him, Team Ireland, Taekwondo) is the first Irish athlete to compete in Taekwondo at an Olympic level. While this will be his first Games, Woolley has won medals at international championships in Australia, Turkey, the USA, and at the European Championships. Woolley has said that after coming out as bisexual in the media, some opponents have refused to shake his hand at matches.
The Guide to Covering LGBTQ Athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics also includes athletes from Japan who have recently come out.
Reporters can explore how the Olympics and Paralympics have created an opportunity for LGBTQ athletes to come out, be more visible, and call for further protections for the LGBTQ community.
About Athlete Ally:
Athlete Ally believes sport will change the world when it welcomes and empowers all people. As a leading national nonprofit working at the intersection of sport and LGBTQI+ equality, Athlete Ally works to end the structural and systemic oppression that isolates, excludes and endangers LGBTQI+ people in sport. We educate individuals and institutions to understand obstacles to inclusion for LGBTQI+ people and how they can build an inclusive culture within their athletic communities. We work to ensure sport governing bodies, teams and leagues adopt policies that reflect the diversity of their constituents. We incubate athlete activism to advance LGBTQI+ equality in and through sport. For more information, visit www.athleteally.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. Follow GLAAD on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
About Pride House Tokyo:
Since 2018, the Pride House Tokyo Consortium has been working to expand understanding of LGBTQ and other sexual minorities in Japan, and to create an environment in which all people can feel safe, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Pride House Tokyo Legacy, a permanent, comprehensive LGBTQ center that opened in Shinjuku on October 11, 2020, is an initiative that resonates with one of the visions of the Tokyo 2020 Games, “Diversity and Harmony,” and is recognized as part of the game’s official program.
Contact: Gon Matsunaka firstname.lastname@example.org