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A Brief History of LGBTQ+ Olympians
It's still rare for athletes -- especially the kind of elite athletes who dominate the Olympic Games -- to come out publicly before retirement. But acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in sports has been growing. The Tokyo Olympics will have the most out athletes of any games. Here are other important moments in queer Olympic history.
1934 - Otto Peltzer
German runner Otto Peltzer, who competed in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics, is arrested by the Nazi regime for homosexuality. He is eventually sent to a concentration camp, which is liberated by U.S. forces at the end of World War II.
1968 - Tom Waddell
Tom Waddell, the man who would launch the Gay Games in 1982, competes in the decathlon at the Mexico City Olympics, where he comes in sixth.
1988 - Robert Dover
Robert Dover, an equestrian from the U.S., becomes the first out gay athlete to compete in the modern Olympics.
1996 - David Pichler and Patrick Jeffrey
At the Atlanta Olympics, the U.S. has two out gay divers on its team -- David Pichler (left) and Patrick Jeffrey (right).
1999 - Amélie Mauresmo
French tennis player Amelie Mauresmo, then 19, comes out publicly as a lesbian. She goes on to play at the Sydney Olympics a year later, then at Athens in 2004, where she wins silver in women's singles.
2000 - Christine Witty
Christine Witty of the U.S. places fifth in 500-meter cycling in Sydney. She won a silver medal in speed skating in the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and gold at Salt Lake City in 2002. Witty, a lesbian, was only the ninth American to compete in both the winter and summer games and is so far the only out LGBTQ+ athlete to do so.
2004 - Martina Navratilova
At age 47, tennis great Martina Navratilova (who came out as a lesbian in 1981) competes in her first Olympics, becoming the oldest tennis player to qualify in modern history.
2008 - Matthew Mitcham
Australian diver Matthew Mitcham becomes the first out gay male Olympic champion, winning gold in the 10-meter platform in Beijing.
2012 - Megan Rapinoe
Olympian and USWNT soccer star Megan Rapinoe comes out as gay in Out. She would go on to win a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic games and bronze at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
2013 - Tom Daley
British Olympic diving champion Tom Daley comes out at 19. He has since won bronze for synchronized platform diving at the Rio 2016 games and gold for the same sport at Tokyo 2020.
2014 - Sprinter Regina George
U.S. sprinter Regina George, who played for the Nigerian Olympic team in 2012, posts images online of her with her girlfriend, Inika McPherson.
2016 - Team USA Women's Basketball
The gold medal-winning U.S. women's Olympic basketball team includes four out players -- Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, Seimone Augustus, and Angel McCoughtry.
2021 - Laurel Hubbard
Laurel Hubbard, a weight lifter from New Zealand, becomes the first out transgender woman athlete to qualify for the Olympics.
2021 - Quinn
Quinn, midfielder for Canada's women's soccer team, becomes the first trans athlete to medal at the Olympics. Not only does Quinn medal, but they brought home gold when Canada beat Sweden at the Tokyo Olympics. Also in Tokyo, they became the first out trans athlete to compete in the Games.