Out Sports Stars Who Are Flying the Queer Flag High

Monday November 30, 2020

Out Sports Stars Who Are Flying the Queer Flag High

There is a real sea of change in the world of sports at the moment, with women breaking through on so many levels across many varied sports.

As the battle for equality rages on, so too does the fight for acceptance that gay and trans athletes have been waging for generations.

In this article we champion those athletes who are doing their level best to shine a rainbow-colored light that others can follow.

With a recent study showing that some 70% of gay athletes do not feel comfortable enough to come out to their teammates, the presence of such role models is as important now as it has ever been.

Megan Rapinoe — US Soccer Trailblazer and National Treasure

Megan Rapinoe, with her effervescent personality and hair, has managed what so few athletes can — to transcend sport to become a global icon.

Not only does this US national team hero hit the back of the net with LGBTQ fans, but she is also a large part of the movement that is trying to get women's sport recognized as being equal to that of men.

Certainly, there are few male players who live up to her billing when she steps out onto the field of play, practically always being a shoo-in for sports betting punters who want to know which player will win the golden boot award at any international competition.

Indeed, other than perhaps Messi and Ronaldo, there are few other players of either sex who can guarantee goals and drama quite like Rapinoe can, making her a dream for team coaches desperate for free passage to the next round of a tournament, fans with sports free bets to wager, and aspiring female players who want to break free of the restraints imposed on them.

Sport aside, Rapinoe is also becoming a huge name on the fashion scene, regularly sporting incredible power suits and bling accessories.

Sue Bird — Part of the Rapinoe/Bird Sports Power Couple

While she is in danger of becoming known as Megan Rapinoe's partner rather than an athlete in her own right, Sue Bird is an exceptional basketball player, being a reigning WNBA champion with the Seattle Storm.

Something that sets her apart from her peers is that far from only being a success in the US, she also claimed three Russian league championships with UMMC Ekaterinburg, feats she achieved while everyone else had their feet up in the WNBA offseason.

She recently became engaged to Rapinoe and the two will be able to celebrate surrounded by all the Olympic medals and trophies that they have accrued throughout their respective stellar careers.

Diana Taurasi — Known as the White Mamba

Although Bird might be leading the way when it comes to celebrity in the WNBA, Diana Taurasi is widely considered to be the league's GOAT, holding most of the scoring and MVP records out there.

Taurasi has been dedicated long term to the Phoenix Mercury, where she even met her now partner Penny Taylor. The rest, as they say is history, with the couple now happily married.

Orlando Cruz and Terri Harper — Fighting for Acceptance in the Squared Circle

If you thought that coming out was hard in sports like basketball and soccer, imagine trying to do it when your opponents are literally tasked with taking your head off for as long as a contest lasts.

Dodging low blows to the jock strap and right hooks to the head, are queer boxing champions Orlando Cruz and Terri Harper.

Harper hails from the UK where she recently defended her world championship belt against Natasha Jonas, gaining a controversial decision from the judges. That aside, she is one of the women leading the charge for their sport on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cruz, meanwhile, has been off the boxing radar since 2018 but has yet to announce his retirement. He made headlines when he became one of the first world level male boxers to come out as gay. In the fights that followed his announcement, he wore rainbow colored boxing shorts to the ring, always putting up a strong fight wherever on the planet he plied his trade.

Gus Kenworthy — Bringing Action Sports Into the 21st Century

You would think that extreme and action sports full of laid-back surfers and skateboarders would have been one of the first sports genres to encourage queer athletes to come out, but instead many of their number have lagged behind, with macho undercurrents often shaming folk into not being themselves.

In the end, it needed freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy to take the leap of faith, all as he was winning the world championship, X Game, and Olympic medals. Having represented the US for the bulk of his career, he recently switched allegiances to Team GB for whom he just won a Halfpipe gold medal at the Ski World Cup.

Kenworthy's coming out was seen as being especially important, and his profile rose exponentially, with him making appearances on TV shows such as RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars and even Will & Grace.

Ian Thorpe — Still Time for a Comeback?

Were it not for Michael Phelps, there would be no doubt about the "Thorpedo" being the greatest swimmer of all time.

Throughout a stellar career the Australian racked up an incredible 37 shiny Olympic gold medals as well as a whole heap of others that he is probably not that fussed about.

It took him till late in his career to come out, not only to the public but to his family and close friends as well. The interview he did with legendary television broadcaster Michael Parkinson, in which he announced his sexuality, was a huge moment not just for the queer movement in Australia, but around the world.

Thorpe aside, most of the athletes on this list are still competing professionally in their chosen sports. Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that many athletes feel the need to delay their coming out until the twilight years of their career, highlighting the fact that the majority of sports have to do a better job of nurturing an atmosphere of inclusivity and security for young queer athletes.

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