Coming Out Day is a day that celebrates the courage of those who have come out as LGBTQ. This year, it falls on October 11th.
Coming Out Day The full interviews, as told to ESPN is a podcast that features interviews with athletes about their coming out stories. It’s hosted by the ufc live, bbc.
Coming out is a virtually universal experience for individuals of the LGBTQ+ community, and it is frequently a defining event. On October 11, in honor of International Coming Out Day, ESPN talked with 17 out athletes from across the globe about their experiences.
Athletes from Argentina to Australia, America to Africa, and a variety of other countries gave information of their quest for identity, why they came out publicly, and how their lives have altered as a consequence.
READ: 17 LGBTQ+ athletes open out about their experiences coming out | In Spanish | In Dutch
Phuti Lekoloane, a South African footballer, recounts his coming-out story: ‘I’m braver than I imagined.’
Phuti Lekoloane [he/him], 30, is the first openly homosexual male footballer in South Africa who has ever played at a high level. Professionally, he has played in the country’s third level, but claims that being out has badly harmed his career.
‘Love is a human right,’ Dutee Chand, an Indian sprinter, says of her coming-out experience.
Dutee Chand [she/her], an Indian sprinter, came out as a lesbian in 2019 and is one of her country’s first openly out LGBTQ+ athletes. Chand is the current Indian women’s 100m champion and has participated in the Olympic Games in 2016 and 2020.
‘It was the worst-kept secret in the world,’ says rugby league great Ian Roberts.
Ian Roberts [he/him], an Australian rugby league star, came out as homosexual in 1994 and continued to play top-tier club football until his retirement in 1998. He went on to have a successful acting career, starring in Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and Superman Returns, among other films.
‘Just be yourself,’ says Australian footballer Michelle Heyman of her coming-out experience.
Michelle Heyman [she/her], a former Australian footballer who now plays for Canberra United in the A-League Women, came out as a lesbian publicly in 2010. Heyman represented Australia in the 2016 Rio Olympics and at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
‘It’s exhausting, living in denial,’ says racing driver Charlie Martin on coming out.
Charlie Martin [she/her], a 40-year-old endurance racer, came out as transgender in 2018 and claims to have begun her transition in 2012. Martin raced in the Michelin Le Mans Cup in 2019 and was the first openly trans person to participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours in 2020. Martin is an advocate for Stonewall, Racing Pride, and Athlete Ally.
‘I don’t know why I was so scared,’ says Katie-George Dunlevy, a paralympian from Ireland.
Katie-George Dunlevy [she/her], a paralympic champion from Ireland, won gold and silver medals in the blind tandem events at both the Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games, with pilot Eve McCrystal.
‘You’re not strange for being homosexual,’ says Merel van Dongen of the Netherlands football team.
Merel van Dongen [she/her], a defender for the Netherlands women’s national team, is 28 years old and plays club football for Atletico Madrid. She also played college soccer for the Alabama Crimson Tide. She represented the Oranjevrouwen in the FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2015 and 2019, finishing second to the USA in the latter.
Merel van Dongen’s interview in Dutch may be found HERE.
‘Now I know what the letters represent,’ says Ramsey Angela, a Dutch athlete who just came out.
Ramsey Angela [he/him], a 21-year-old Dutch track athlete, won silver in the men’s 4x400m relay at the Tokyo Olympics. Angela has never made a public declaration about being homosexual, preferring to let Instagram pictures with his partner do the talking for him, and claims he has never been compelled to do so.
Ramsey Angela’s interview in Dutch may be seen HERE.
‘Humanity is going ahead,’ says Lola Gallardo, the goalkeeper for Atletico Madrid.
Lola Gallardo [she/her], the goalkeeper for the Spanish women’s national team, has spent the most of her professional career with Atletico Madrid, with a short stint with Olympique Lyon, when she won the UEFA Women’s Champions League. She participated in the FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2015 and 2019.
In Spanish, read Lola Gallardo’s interview HERE.
Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury believes that having people congratulate her for being an out athlete who encourages them is more valuable than any trophy or medal. Getty Images/Michael Hickey
NORTH AMERICA is a country in North America.
‘Be your own hero,’ says Olympic diver Greg Louganis of his transition.
Greg Louganis [he/him], an Olympic diving star, won four gold medals in back-to-back Olympic Games in 1984 and 1988. He came out as homosexual in public for the first time during the Gay Games in 1994, although he had been out to people around him since he was a child.
‘I want to be someone to look up to,’ says WNBA player Brittney Griner of her transition.
Brittney Griner [she/her], a 30-year-old WNBA player, was the first overall selection in the 2013 WNBA Draft and shortly after came out as lesbian. She is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and plays for the Phoenix Mercury, who selected her in the Draft following a great career at Baylor.
‘It’s terrifying, but you feel so strong,’ says Olympian Adam Rippon about coming out.
Adam Rippon [he/him], a former American figure skater, is a Winter Olympic medallist, having won bronze in the team event in PyeongChang in 2018. In 2015, he came out as homosexual and went on to win the US Championships in 2016.
‘We’re out here, you’re not alone,’ says Alana Smith, a skateboarder from the United States.
Alana Smith [they/them], a 20-year-old skateboarder who participated for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics, was one of the games’ most prominent non-binary competitors, with footballer Quinn of Canada. Smith came out as bisexual at the age of 16 and as non-binary in the year 2021.
‘I was ready to be more genuine,’ says Collin Martin of the United States football team.
Collin Martin [he/him], a 26-year-old San Diego Loyal footballer, came out as homosexual in 2018 while playing for Minnesota United FC in Major League Soccer. He was the first out gay professional athlete in a major American league at the time.
‘I could be free and play hockey,’ says NHL prospect Luke Prokop on coming out.
Luke Prokop [he/him], a Nashville Predators prospect, came out publicly as homosexual in 2021 and is the only current out player with an NHL contract. The Predators chose the Canadian defender in the 2020 NHL entry draft, and he is presently playing with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.
SOUTH AMERICA is a country in South America.
‘You will not be alone when you are ready,’ says Douglas Souza, a Brazilian volleyballer.
Douglas Souza [he/him], a 26-year-old Brazilian volleyball player, is an Olympic champion, having won gold in men’s volleyball at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In Tokyo, his Brazil squad finished fourth. He’s the most following volleyballer on Instagram right now, and he came out as homosexual in 2020.
Douglas Souza’s Portuguese interview may be found HERE.
‘You seem so joyful, Seba,’ says Argentine basketballer Sebastian Vega when asked about his coming out experience.
Sebastian Vega [he/him], a professional basketball player, came out as homosexual in March 2020, claiming that he did so to fight the sport’s macho image. He plays for Gimnasia de Comodoro in Argentina’s top flight.
In Spanish, you can read Sebastian Vega’s interview HERE.
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