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Out Skater Brittany Bowe Serves as Team USA Flag Bearer

Britanny Bowe and fellow flag bearer entering the arena
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

The speed skater and bronze medalist held the honor along with curler John Shuster. 

@wgacooper

Out Team USA speed skater Brittany Bowe served as one of the flag bearers for Friday's Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Bowe, 33, was the only out Olympian from Team USA to serve in that capacity, according to OutSports. She walked with fellow flag bearer John Shuster of the curling team.

The outlet notes that Elena Meyers Taylor had been slated to serve as a flag bearer, but she had to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.

"Still, it's a powerful statement about where American sports are today, when a publicly out LGBTQ athlete, who posts photos of her girlfriend regularly, is selected to represent the United States," OutSports writes.

The skater is a favorite to win the gold medal for the women's 1000-meter. That race will be held February 17. Bowe will participate in other competitions too.

She won a bronze medal in 2018 in South Korea. Bowe has received a gold medal from the Pan American Games, four gold medals from the Speed Skating Championships, and eight gold medals from the Women's World Championships in inline speed skating.

Another previous out flag bearer was Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, who carried the Dutch flag in 2018's closing ceremonies of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The choice of an out Olympian stands in contrast to the recent anti-LGBTQ+ crackdowns in China. While homosexuality was decriminalized in the late 1990s, Chinese LGBTQ+ people still face social stigma and there are few legal protections for them.

Last year, the Chinese government banned so-called "sissy men" from television, stating such portrayals were against Chinese tradition. Chinese social media platform WeChat also deleted many LGBTQ+ clubs at universities across the country. These incidents and more have caused LGBTQ+ advocates in the country to be concerned about further actions.

@wgacooper
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