LGBTQ Winter Olympians
When the 2022 Winter Olympics kick off on Feb. 4, a record number of out LGBTQ athletes will be in Beijing in hopes of achieving their own gold medal moment.
According to Outsports, the 2022 Games will feature at least 34 out Olympians representing 13 nations and populations across the LGBTQ spectrum, including the first nonbinary Winter Olympian ever, competing in nine different sports.
Much like the 2020 Summer Olympics, the number of LGBTQ Olympians is a dramatic increase compared to any other Winter Games. Team LGBTQ’s 2022 roster more than doubles the number of out athletes from the previous Winter Olympics in 2018. It also includes the most out LGBTQ men, 11 currently, in Winter Olympics history, just four years after the Winter Games saw its first out male competitors.
“It’s honestly a privilege to feel part of a community, and one that is pushing boundaries like no other,” British figure skater Lewis Gibson said. “Every four years the numbers skyrocket up and up … The Olympics are a legacy and being part of this group of people is that as well.”
There are also a confirmed 22 out women making the trip to Beijing, competing in events ranging from ice hockey to biathlon. “Knowing that I can step on the big stage, the Olympics, as a known LGBTQ member, and be able to bring out more visibility and help athletes be who they want to be, brings me a lot of joy,” Brazilian skeleton competitor Nicole Silveira told Outsports. “I hope I can be that person that helps lift that weight off someone else’s shoulders.”
First For Nonbinary Athletes
Notable among the Team LGBTQ names is American pairs figure skater Timothy Leduc. The Cedar Rapids, Mich. native will become the first out nonbinary Olympian in the history of the Winter Games. Leduc was selected to the team alongside their skating partner Ashley Cain-Gribble after the pair’s record-setting 2022 national championship victory earlier this month.
Leduc’s selection adds to a growing presence for nonbinary and gender diverse identities on the Olympic stage. The Summer Olympics saw its first nonbinary athletes last year when American skateboarder Alana Smith and Canadian soccer star Quinn broke that barrier for the Olympics as a whole. Quinn went on the become the first out trans nonbinary gold medalist in Olympics history.
Leduc hopes to reach the same heights while providing another example for LGBTQ fans watching at home. “I’m hoping that moves the conversation forward in that more queer people can embrace authenticity,” Leduc told Iowa News Now. “Embrace what makes them unique and different and that they don’t have to change themselves in order to be a part of sports.”
Out LGBTQ Coaches
In addition to the landmark number of out athletes, there will also be an assortment of out LGBTQ coaches leading them toward Olympic glory. All four of the currently known out coaches heading to Beijing come from the figure skating world, including Adam Rippon and Jorik Hendrikx, who were part of the groundbreaking out LGBTQ male presence on the ice in 2018.
“The experience of going to the [Winter Olympic] Games is a huge accomplishment. Everybody wants to have a medal, but awards and accolades, they fade away. What you remember as an athlete is your experience,” Rippon told E! News. “I hope that athletes remember that it’s a really, really intimate personal experience.”
Brian Orser and Romain Haguenauer join Rippon and Hendrikx as the currently known out coaches geared up for Winter Olympic competition.
Winter Olympics: Previously on Towleroad
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