Huffpost | By Kevin Burra | July 2012
Of the nearly 11,000 athletes from around the world who have arrived in London and now eagerly await tonight’s reportedly fanfare-filled Olympic opening ceremonies, only 22 are openly gay, according to the most recent OutSports report, as well as Mambaonline.
This dismally small number may be surprising considering speculation (though now debunked) that the influx of gay Olympians crashed gay mobile dating app Grindr. Furthermore, while numbers are low across the board, there is a particularly small number of openly gay males, as HuffPost Gay Voices blogger Josh Goodman has pointed out.
Nevertheless, the amount of out gay athletes does mark an improvement from past games — there were only 11 out athletes in Athens and 10 in Beijing, according to OutSports. Futhermore, with some suggesting that gay and lesbian athletes from countries in which being gay is illegal should come out during the games and seek asylum in Britain, it’s possible that these numbers may increase in the coming days.
Before the opening ceremonies, take some time to get to know those athletes who have come out, in spite of the all-too-common LGBT stigmatization in the world of sports. Keep track of them, and all the Olympic events, with Huffington Post’s interactive Olympics schedule.
The 24-year-old Olympic diver, who took home the gold medal in 2008 in the ten meter platform, revealed his sexuality in an exclusive interview with The Sydney Morning Herald. Mitcham, then 20 years old, credited partner Lachlan with helping him battle depression and emotional burnout in the years before his Olympic triumph.
He also, apparently, takes his position as one of the few, out, gay male athletes–a ‘bromosexual’–in stride: “Yes, I’m that gay, 2008-Olympic-gold-medal-winning diver dude. And yes, bro, I am quite sick,” Mitcham writes on his Twitter page.
Edward Gal, 42, who will be competing for the Netherlands, is somewhat of a rockstar in the world of dressage (sometimes referred to as ‘horse ballet’). He won three gold medals at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, with his horse Totilas, and is considered the rider to beat at the London games.
According to Horse and Hound, the honor of choosing the name for Totilas’ foal was given to Gal. He picked “Te Amo,” the magazine reports, after one of his favorite songs by his Rihanna.
Gal in a relationship with fellow Netherlands equestrian, Hans Peter Minderhoud.
Judith, 36, a road cyclist for Germany, is one of the best female riders in the world, having won some of the hardest women’s races, as well as a silver and a bronze Olympic medal.
At the 2004 Athens Olympics Arndt was fined for giving the middle finger as she passed the finish line, angry about the exclusion of her partner, Petra Rossner, from the German team. The two cyclists have been in a relationship for more than fifteen years.
Rikke Erhardsen Skov
Skov, 31, will play on Denmark’s woman’s handball team, hoping to follow-up the gold she won in Athens in 2004, and the various victories she had thereafter. Skov took a break from Handball in 2008 to work on her career as a nurse, and to be with her family — Lotte, a fellow female handballer, and their daughters, according to the VIA University College web site — but has since returned.
The 28 year-old women’s basketball powerhouse was called “the next Michael Jordan” in a Sports Illustrated cover story… when she was only fourteen!
Before making the United States 2012 team, Augustus played college basketball at LSU, was an WNBA champion, playing for the Lynx, competed in the 2008 games and played on national teams for various other countries.
She is engaged to LaTaya Varner and the two women have been together for more than five years. Follow Augustus on Twitter.
Imke Duplitzer, 37, is just as fierce with her mouth as her sword. The member of the German Women’s Epeé fencing team has recently voiced opposition to the Olympics in Bild Newspaper. The Local gives an English translation:
“They’re developing their own values and rules that are moving further and further from the Olympic spirit… Who doesn’t like watching the flame being lit or a child carrying a dove through the stadium with dramatic music, with all those sentimental buttons being pushed? The sport is just a sideshow… it’s not been about the athletes for a long time,” alluding to the commercial-oriented policies that hinder opportunities for individual athletes.
She also explained how easy it is to get away with taking performance-enhancing drugs–“If you have a bit of money for medication, a good doctor, and a lax federation, you’ll never be caught.”
Duplitze is being applauded for being vocal in her criticism. Then again, as a lesbian woman, disrupting the status quo is par for the course.
The 27-year-old U.S. Olympic soccer player spoke frankly about her sexuality in an interview with Out magazine, saying she is a lesbian and in a committed relationship with a woman.
While her statement may seem bold, the 27-year-old Rapinoe told Out’s Jerry Portwood that she’d just never been asked directly. “I think they were trying to be respectful and that it’s my job to say, ‘I’m gay,’ she said. “Which I am. For the record: I am gay.”
Rapinoe, who’s been dating her girlfriend — identified in the magazine only as an Australian soccer player — for three years, also took time to chat about homophobia in sports and, more specifically, female athletes’ perspective on the subject.
“I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” she said. Still, she added, “In female sports, if you’re gay, most likely your team knows it pretty quickly. It’s very open and widely supported. For males, it’s not that way at all. It’s sad.”
The 27 year-old goalkeeper will play on the Brazilian women’s handball team in London 2012.
Lacarbére, 25, will represent France in women’s handball at London this year. Last November, Lacrebére came out subtly in a handball newsletter, HandAction, and French-language Tétu.com reports, she said (translated), “I can paint, I make paintings in particular. I can go shopping and I especially spend time with my girlfriend.”
Tétu applauded the “small step” towards invisibility, calling her (translated), “a model for youth in sports that are still hesitant to say loud and clear who they are.”
Raymond, who will be competing on the United States doubles tennis team, has had an impressive nearly twenty-year career. In spite of this, she tells NBC10, one thing is eluding her: “For me the one thing I’m missing in my career is a medal from the Olympics… I’ve won slams, I’ve gotten the rankings, I’ve won the tournaments but to be on that podium that’s something I’ve never done, I’ve never achieved.”
The soon-to-be 39 year old has had past relationships with some of her female tennis partners, and is one of the few lesbian athletes at this year’s London games.
Though born and raised in South Africa, Agliotti began representing the Netherlands after moving to Holland and was a member of the Dutch team that won the gold medal in the 2008 Summer olympics. Agliotti, 33, is married to a woman.
On her Twitter page, Agliotti says that her passions are “field hockey, philosophy. music and saving the earth.”
The 45 year-old gay dressage rider will be competing on behalf of the United Kingdom. His Twitter lists his accomplishments, “European Team Gold & Individual Silver @ 2011 European Champs,” but it’s necessary to look at his biography to see the fascinating life story behind them — he was an abandoned child in the care of his grandmother, and learned to ride a donkey on an island that had no cars, among other interesting tid bits.
Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel
Dirkse van den Heuvel, 25, “is a relatively new up and coming field hockey star in the Netherlands. London will mark her first Olympics,” BuzzFeed reports. Perhaps due to her newcomer status, there isn’t much information about the athlete. However, her Facebook page says that she is “in a relationship” with Maartje Paumen, who is a fellow female Dutch field hockey player representing the Netherlands in London.
Paumen, 33, who was named the 2011 Player of the Year by the International Hockey Federation, will represent Netherlands in women’s field hockey at London this year.
She is openly lesbian, and on the Facebook page of Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (a teammate), it says that the two are “in a relationship.”
Cook, 37, has competed in Women’s Beach Volleyball in four Olympic Games, and won a gold medal in Sydney in 2000. She’s hoping for similar results when she represents Australia this year in London.
In addition to athletics, Cook is a published author and a corporate speaker — according to her web site, she “help[s] businesses succeed by teaching them her formula for success.” She is openly lesbian.
Landström, 27, is considered a key player on Sweden’s female soccer team. In a 2008 article in the gay Swedish publication, QX, Landstrom speaks frankly about her sexuality, her relationship with her then-fiancé, Sarah.
According to her Facebook, Lindahl, who is a 29-year-old Swedish women’s soccer goalie, has an impressive collection of awards–“World Cup silver 2003. World Cup bronze 2011. Goalkeeper of the year in Sweden 2004, 2005, 2009. Winner of the Swedish Cup 2006, 2008. World Cup bronze 2011.” She is one of three lesbians on the Swedish women’s soccer team.
Lisa Dahlkvist, age 25, is one of three lesbians on the Swedish soccer team. She speaks about coming out and her girlfriend coming to watch her soccer matches on DamFootball.com.
On her Twitter, 34 year-old Harrison, who will compete for France in women’s triathlon, says that she is “Just living my life how I like — doing triathlon, travelling, meeting people…”
She is in a relationship with fellow French Olympian, Carole Péon, who also competes in women’s triathlon.
Carole Péon, 33, will be competing for France in women’s triathlon, alongside Jessica Harrison, with whom Péon is in a relationship.
For the numerous and prestigious titles that the 37-year old German cyclist has amassed, HighRoadSports.com reports, Teutenberg still has one major unfulfilled ambition in her career: “To finish on the podium in a World Championships or Olympics. I did it in the Worlds as a junior but never in the senior race. I’ve got a couple more shots…”
Perhaps the London 2012 olympics will be the time for the cyclist, who is openly lesbian, to realize her goal.
Karen Anne Hultzer
Karen Hultzer, 46, will be representing South Africa in archery at the London olympics. According to Mambaonline, she began archery in 2007 and competed in her first National tournament in March 2008. She won a silver medal at the 2008 Nationals and a Gold medal at the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Nationals.
Her partner, Tracey Kim Saunders, told Mambaonline that Hultzer is happy to be identified as a gay athlete, making Hultzer is the only openly gay competitor from the African continent.