Who's Team LGBTQ+ on Team USA?

A record-high number of out athletes, mostly queer women, will represent America at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

This year’s Olympic Games will be out of the ordinary in multiple ways, including how the 2020 games are taking place in 2021. For the LGBTQ+ community, it’s also a year of firsts and broken records.

An openly transgender athlete, weightlifter Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand (pictured below), will compete for the first time ever in the history of the Olympics. Hubbard will be joined by an unprecedented 163 out athletes, more than double the number who participated in the 2016 Games. In fact, according to Outsports, “the number of publicly out LGBTQ athletes in Tokyo is greater than the number athletes who have participated in all of the previous Summer Olympic Games combined while publicly out.”

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GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 09: Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes in the Women's 90kg Final during Weightlifting on day five of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on April 9, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

This will be the queerest Olympics on record, but many faces will be missing — particularly those of Black women. American running star Sha’Carri Richardson was disqualified, and South African runner Caster Semenya and American runner CeCe Telfer won’t compete due to testosterone levels deemed too high by World Athletics.

The 40 out Americans — overwhelmingly queer women — who have made it through the rules and trials will represent the United States in the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo while also representing Team LGBTQ+. Below, read up on the incredible LGBTQ+ Olympians and Paralympians of 2020, grouped together by sport.


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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 16: Sue Bird #6 of the United States passes against the Australia Opals during an exhibition game at Michelob ULTRA Arena ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 16, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Australia defeated the United States 70-67. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Women’s basketball would be nothing without queer women, and some of the sport’s biggest stars are heading to Tokyo. Sue Bird (pictured above), who will be a flag bearer for Team USA at the Opening Ceremony today (July 23), will be in Japan with her fiancée Megan Rapinoe, who will play for Team USA in women’s soccer. We can’t wait for pics of the power couple gracing us with their royal presence. Bird will play alongside legends like Diana Taurasi and Breanna Stewart. Teammates Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, and Chelsea Gray are all out and proud, too, bringing the total on the team to six.

WNBA player Stefanie Dolson will represent the U.S. in its first ever women’s 3x3 basketball team. “I know who I am and I don't care if people judge me,” Dolson said in 2016 when she came out. “I am 6'5", and I dye my hair purple and experiment a lot with fashion. My motto is: If they're going to stare, they might as well stare at something fun.”

BMX Freestyle

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HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - APRIL 21: Chelsea Wolfe of the USA competes in the UCI BMX Freestyle Park World Cup on day three of the FISE Hiroshima at former Hiroshima Municipal Stadium on April 21, 2019 in Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

Out trans woman Chelsea Wolfe (pictured above) will be a reserve player for Team USA’s BMX team, making history as the first American trans athlete the U.S. is sending to the Games. If she competes, it will double the number of trans Olympians from one to two. Wolfe loves the individualistic nature of BMX Freestyle, she told ESPN in June: “Being on the course by yourself, it just really lets you express however you want to do your riding.”

Additionally, Perris Benegas (who came out in May on Instagram) and Hannah Roberts (who married her wife in January) will compete in BMX Freestyle.


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CAMBRIDGE, MA - OCTOBER 17: Coxswain Julian Venonsky trains on the Charles River with the U.S. National crew, who will be part of the Men's Championship 8+ event, at the Head of the Charles Regatta this coming weekend in Cambridge, MA on Oct. 17, 2019. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Ellen Tomek and Meghan O’Leary will compete on the “Quad Squad,” the unofficial team name for the four American women competing in women’s quadruple sculls. Kendall “Kenny” Chase, Gia Doonan, Jessica Thoennes, and Julian Venonsky will all row for Team USA as well.

Venonsky (pictured above with his teammates), a coxswain and one of the only out men competing for Team USA in Tokyo, came out as gay when he was a student at U.C. Berkeley to great support. He said his “Cal family” members were “easily and unequivocally my greatest allies. Nothing changed when I was truly open, out, and even in a relationship. If anything, our bond strengthened, and our family grew.”


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DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 13: Alev Kelter of USA lines up a conversion during the Womens Rugby World Cup 2017 Pool B game between USA and Spain at UCD Bowl on August 13, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Out-and-proud athlete Alev Kelter (pictured above) spoke out against banning trans people from the sport last year. Last month, Kristen Thomas posted on Instagram showing off her new love of crop tops and using the hashtags #androgynous, #lgbtq, #stemme, and #nonbinary.

Kelter and Thomas will both play sevens for Team USA.


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TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 21: Alexis Sablone of Team United States practices on the skateboard street course ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on July 21, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Skateboarding is one of new sports at 2021 Olympics Summer Games . (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Leave it to queer people to gravitate toward a groundbreaking sport. Skateboarding will be one of four new Olympic sports this year, and Alexis Sablone (pictured above) and Alana Smith will be rocking their boards in their first Olympics.

Sablone, also a visual artist, created a shoe design for Converse for Pride 2021 that includes a rainbow with black and brown, a transgender emblem, and the Lambda symbol.


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CHOFU, JAPAN - JULY 21: Megan Rapinoe #15 of Team United States reacts as she warms up prior to the Women's First Round Group G match between Sweden and United States during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium on July 21, 2021 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Ah, women’s soccer, our home away from home. It’s no surprise that over 25% of all LGBTQ+ Olympic athletes from around the world this year are competing in this sport.

Get ready to swoon when Megan Rapinoe (pictured above, far left) takes the field in Tokyo. This celesbian has captured our hearts with her advocacy for equal pay, racial equity, and trans inclusion.

Rapinoe’s out teammates include Tierna Davidson, Adrianna Franch, and Kelly O’Hara.


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FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN - JULY 22: Amanda Chidester #4 of Team United States hits an RBI single in the fifth inning against Team Canada during the Softball Opening Round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium on July 22, 2021 in Fukushima, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)

Embracing the stereotype, the women’s softball team naturally has multiple queer women playing for it. Haylie McCleney, Ally Carda, and Amanda Chidester (pictured above) will be playing in a league of their own, and Taylor Edwards is on deck as a reserve player, too.

Chidester is engaged to another Olympic softball player, Anissa Urtez, who will play against her fiancée in a July 23 game. Urtez says, “We don’t know each other when we’re on the field. It’s game on.” Chidester adds, “Whoever medals, we’re going to be happy for each other no matter what. No matter what.”

Track and Field

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EUGENE, OREGON - JUNE 27: Erica Bougard competes in the Women's Heptathlon Long Jump during day ten of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 27, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Queer women will be competing in two track and field events this year. Erica Bougard (pictured above) will take on the heptathlon, a seven-event competition which includes the high jump, shot put, javelin throw, 200-meter dash, long jump, 100-meter hurdles, and 800-meter race.

Bougard caused a stir when she wore rainbow shoes to a 2019 competition in Qatar, where homosexuality is a crime that is punishable by prison sentence. She told the Associated Press she was “not afraid of the consequences” and felt it was important to use her voice as an athlete.

Raven Saunders will be competing in the shot put event. She has earned the nickname “Hulk” and competed at the Olympic trials with green hair and a Hulk mask.


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LIMA, PERU - AUGUST 09: (L-R) Nathali Griman of Venezuela competes against Kayla Miracle of USA during Wrestling Women's Freestyle 62 kg Quarterfinals at Miguel Grau Coliseum of Villa Deportiva Regional del Callao on Day 14 of Lima 2019 Pan American Games on August 9, 2019 in Lima, Peru. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Jam Media/Getty Images)

These athletes are much more than the miscellaneous. They may be the sole LGBTQ+ American representing their sport in Tokyo, but they are making space for themselves regardless.

Kayla Miracle (pictured above, bottom) will be the first out Olympic wrestler for any country when she competes in Tokyo, according to Outsports. Erica Sullivan will be swimming for gold, Linnea Gonzalez will play on the field hockey team, and Rashida Ellis will be boxing for Team USA. Evy Leibfarth will be competing in canoe slalom, and Nick Wagman is an alternate for the equestrian team.

There are at least four out athletes competing in the 2020 Paralympics, which will take place between August 24 and September 5. Asya Miller will play goalball for Team USA, where she has already medaled in the 2004, 2008, and 2016 Games. Monique Burkland will play sitting volleyball and has medaled in the 2012 and 2016 Games. This will be the first Olympics for wheelchair basketball player Courtney Ryan and the second for triathlete Hailey Danz.

The 2020 Olympic Games will take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021. Viewers in the U.S. can watch across NBC platforms, including streaming.

Main image: Olympic track and field star Erica Bougard.

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