Last summer’s Tokyo Olympics was a record-setting one for LGBTQ athletes.
A total of 186 publicly out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and nonbinary athletes participated in the Tokyo Games, according to Outsports.com. Not only was that the most at any Olympics ever, but it was also more than triple the number of LGBTQ athletes at the 2016 Rio Games.
The Tokyo Olympics saw a record performance from out athletes as well, with 55 LGBTQ athletes earning a podium finish, according to Out Magazine.
A Winter Olympics-record 15 out LGBTQ athletes took part in the 2018 PyeongChang Games. That number will be more than doubled at this year’s Games as at least 34 out athletes will compete at the Beijing Games, in a country where same-sex marriage is illegal and LGBTQ activism is restricted.
Here are 10 of the out LGBTQ athletes who are set to compete at the Beijing Olympics.
Openly LGBTQ Olympians competing in the Beijing Winter Games
Andrew Blaser, Team USA
Andrew Blaser will become the first openly gay man to compete in skeleton at the Olympics. He was the lone American male skeleton athlete to earn a spot at the Beijing Games and will be part of the smallest U.S. Olympic skeleton team (three athletes) since the sport was reintroduced at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
Blaser, 32, was a track-and-field athlete during his days at the University of Idaho, competing in the pole vault and hurdles, and it wasn’t until 2016 that he first competed in skeleton on the international level.
Brittany Bowe, Team USA
American Brittany Bowe is on the Team USA roster for a third consecutive Olympics. Bowe, an LGBTQ long-track speed skater, made her Olympic debut at the 2014 Sochi Games and captured her first Olympic medal in 2018, when she took bronze in the team pursuit. She’s a four-time champion and 11-time medalist at the World Single Distance Championships.
The 33-year-old finished first in three events (500m, 1000m and 1500m) at the 2022 U.S. Speed Skating Trials, but went viral for a heartwarming gesture she made off the ice. Bowe gave her Olympic spot in the 500m event to friend and teammate Erin Jackson, who finished one spot outside of qualification after stumbling during the race.
The 28-year-old Jackson, who became the first Black woman to make a U.S. Olympic long-track speed skating team in 2018, has known Bowe since she was 10.
Belle Brockhoff, Australia
Belle Brockhoff will be hoping the third time’s the charm in Beijing. The Australian snowboarder fell short of a podium finish at the past two Olympics, though her participation in 2018 was an impressive feat on its own. Two months before the PyeongChang Games, Brockhoff ruptured her ACL for the second time in less than a year.
Brockhoff, who is lesbian, claimed her first world gold medal at the 2021 World Championships, finishing first in the mixed team event with Jarryd Hughes. The 29-year-old just missed out on another medal in the individual event, coming in fourth.
Jason Brown, Team USA
Jason Brown is back on the Team USA figure skating team for the 2022 Olympics. Brown took home a bronze medal in the team event at the 2014 Games and won gold at the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. But he was a first alternate for the 2018 Games after a sixth-place finish at nationals.
The 27-year-old helped the United States to a silver medal finish at the 2021 World Team Trophy, and medaled for the fourth straight time at the U.S. Championships in January.
Brown came out as gay during Pride Month, June, of last year.
Guillaume Cizeron, France
France’s Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis are considered top contenders to finish atop the ice dancing podium in Beijing. The 27-year-old Cizeron, who is gay, and 26-year-old Papadakis have formed a dominant partnership, capturing four World Championship titles, five European Championship titles and seven national titles.
At their first Olympics in 2018, Cizeron and Papadakis took silver. Now, they’ll look to add Olympic gold to their crowded medal cases.
Timothy LeDuc, Team USA
American figure skater Timothy LeDuc will make history at the 2022 Games as the first publicly out non-binary Winter Olympian. LeDuc became the first openly gay athlete to win a U.S. pairs title when they skated to a first-place finish with partner Ashley Cain-Gribble at the 2019 national championships.
Get to Know Team USA Newcomer Timothy LeDuc
LeDuc, 31, and Cain-Gribble, 26, claimed their second national title together at the U.S. Championships last month, booking their first trip to the Olympics in the process.
Bruce Mouat, Great Britain
Scottish curler Bruce Mouat will captain Great Britain’s men’s team and compete in the mixed doubles event as he makes his Olympic debut, and it’d be surprising if he didn’t come away with any hardware.
Mouat, who is gay, had himself quite the 2021. While representing Scotland, the 27-year-old won gold at the European Championships, silver at the World Men’s Curling Championship and gold at the World Mixed Doubles Championship with teammate Jennifer Dodds. The 30-year-old Dodds is also a first-time Olympian who will partake in the women’s and mixed doubles events.
Paul Poirier, Canada
Just like Jason Brown, Canadian ice dancer Paul Poirier also came out as gay during Pride Month 2021. Poirier is now a three-time Olympian, and this will be his second Games with partner Piper Gilles.
After joining forces in 2011, Poirier and Gilles, both of whom are 30, appeared in their first Olympics as a team in 2018, when they finished eighth. They claimed bronze at the 2021 World Championships for their first-ever medal at the event, and won their second national title at the 2022 Canadian Championships.
Eric Radford, Canada
Canadian figure skater Eric Radford won a historic medal at the 2018 Olympics. Radford and partner Meagan Duhamel skated to a first-place finish in the team event, making Radford the first openly gay man to win gold at a Winter Olympics. The duo won bronze in the pairs event as well, giving them three medals total over their two appearances at the Games.
Radford, who is also a two-time champion and four-time medalist at the World Championships, retired following the 2018 Olympics. But the 36-year-old announced in April 2021 he was coming out of retirement to team up with fellow two-time Olympian Vanessa James, whose resume includes a world bronze medal while representing France.
Ireen Wüst, Netherlands
The most decorated Dutch Olympian, LGBTQ Olympian and Olympic speed skater of all time, Ireen Wüst has accumulated five golds, five silvers and one bronze over her four Olympic appearances. She’s captured at least one individual gold medal at each Olympics she’s competed at, and should she do that again in Beijing, Wüst would become the first Olympian, Winter or Summer, to win an individual gold at five different Games.
Wüst, who is bisexual, won three medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, with a first-place finish in the 1500m and second-place finishes in the 3000m and team pursuit, to pass Australian swimmer and nine-time medalist Ian Thorpe as the most decorated LGBTQ Olympian of all time. The 35-year-old Wüst needs just one gold medal to pass Thorpe for the most among LGBTQ athletes.
Who was the first openly gay Olympian?
American Robert Dover was the first openly gay athlete to compete at the Olympic Games. Dover, an equestrian athlete, had participated in two prior Summer Games before coming out ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Dover was a six-time Olympian and four-time medalist, claiming one bronze in each Olympics from 1992-2004.
But the history of LGBTQ Olympians dates back much further than 1988. German runner Otto Peltzer is the first known LGBTQ Olympian. Peltzer ran at the 1928 Amsterdam and 1932 Los Angeles Olympics before he was arrested and imprisoned by the Nazis for his homosexuality in 1935.
More iconic LGBTQ Olympians throughout history
American Christine Witty was the first LGBTQ athlete to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Witty, a one one-time Olympic champion and three-time medalist in speed skating, also took part in cycling at the 2000 Sydney Games.
Canadian Georgia Simmerling joined Witty by becoming the second LGBTQ athlete to participate in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Simmerling first competed in women’s skicross at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi before earning a bronze medal in the women’s cycling team pursuit at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Australian diver Matthew Mitcham was the first openly gay athlete to win gold at the Olympics. Mitcham finished first in the 10m platform event at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Kate and Helen Richardson-Ross
Kate and Helen Richardson-Ross of Great Britain’s field hockey team were the first same-sex married couple to compete at the same Olympics in 2016. They then also became the first same-sex married couple to medal when Great Britain beat the Netherlands for the country’s first Olympic gold in the sport. Prior to their marriage, Helen and Kate also won bronze together at the 2012 London Games.
Soccer star Megan Rapinoe made 127 appearances for the U.S. women’s national team, scoring 62 goals and assisting on another 71. In addition to her two World Cup titles, Rapinoe, who is lesbian, also has two Olympic medals, winning gold in 2012 and bronze in 2020. She’s the only soccer player in Olympic history to score an Olimpico (a corner kick that goes untouched into the net) and she’s done it twice: once in the 2012 semifinal against Canada and another time in the 2020 bronze medal match versus Australia.
Sue Bird and Diana Turasi
Speaking of Rapinoe, her fiance, Sue Bird, is an iconic LGBTQ Olympian as well. Bird and fellow Team USA basketball star Diana Turasi, both of whom are lesbian, became the first five-time gold medalists in Olympic basketball history at the 2020 Games. The U.S. women’s basketball team has posted a perfect 38-0 record at the Olympics since the two guards debuted at the 2004 Athens Games. Turasi has played 38 Olympic games for Team USA, more than any other American basketball player.
Adam Rippon, Gus Kenworthy and Brittany Bowe
It wasn’t until the 2018 Games when Team USA featured its first openly gay Winter Olympians, as figure skater Adam Rippon, freeskier Gus Kenworthy and speed skater Brittany Bowe competed in PyeongChang. Kenworthy won silver at the 2014 Games, but didn’t come out until the following year. Rippon earned bronze in the 2018 team figure skating competition to make him the United States’ first openly gay medalist at the Winter Games. Bowe wound up earning bronze in the women’s team pursuit.
Quinn and Laurel Hubbard
Two transgender athletes made history at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Canadian midfielder Quinn became the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics. The 26-year-old made more history by the time the women’s soccer tournament was over as well. With Canada beating Sweden in the gold medal match, Quinn became the first transgender and nonbinary athlete to medal at the Olympics.
Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand became the first transgender weightlifter in Olympics history. She placed last in the 87kg weight class.