In the four years since the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, athletes on all levels, from high school to pro, have come out, creating more examples of diversity within the world of sports. But while the locker room doors have opened a little wider, the globally shared experience of the Olympic games still lacks a deep roster of openly LGBT athletes.
To be fair, it's not like we didn't try. Gymnast Josh Dixon, hammer thrower Keelin Godsey, and boxer Patricia Manuel all made noble attempts for trips to London. We also lost Stephany Lee, the no-holds-barred wrestler who qualified for the U.S. team but was later disqualified after traces of marijuana were found in her system. And as much as a stereotype it is, the number of lesbian and bisexual athletes like Vicki Galindo and Lauren Lappin could have been even higher if softball was not eliminated from the games.
Nonetheless, there are as many reasons cited to be closeted as a world-class athlete as there are closeted world-class athletes. Some countries might condemn gays and lesbians, let alone those who act as international representatives. And that's why British activist Peter Tatchell has called on Olympic organizers to ban countries that allow antigay discrimination.
"Why isn’t homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia being challenged by the Olympic authorities?" said Tatchell, the head of the Peter Tatchell Foundation. "It is wrong that in over 150 countries LGBT athletes are forced to hide their sexuality in order to get selected and compete."
But for what it's worth, we've identified a handful of athletes from the U.S. and around the world competing in London this summer. They will represent not only their respective national teams but also Team LGBT.
If you know we're missing any openly LGBT athletes competing in this year's Olympics, please let us know in the comments, so we can keep you updated on their progress throughout the games.
See the short list of this year's out Olympic athletes on the following pages.
UPDATE, 7/18: Fortunately, Outsports was able to dig up even more members of Team LGBT competing at this year's games: French triathletes Carole Péon and Jessica Harrison, who are also a couple; Edward Gal, a Dutch equestrian; German cyclist Judith Arndt; German fencer Imke Duplitzer; Australian beach volleyball player Natalie Cook; French handball player Alexandra Lacrabère; Swedish soccer player Jessica Landström; and Dutch field hockey player Maartje Paumen. We will update the list as we find more.