Rising against homophobia and transphobia, LGBTQ athletes have had a crucial presence in the world of sports.
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Bill Tilden became the first American to win Wimbledon.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias won two gold medals in track and field at the Summer Olympics. Thereafter she focused on golf, winning ten Ladies Professional Golf Association championships.
Billie Jean King won the influential “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match at the Houston Astrodome.
Patricia Nell Warren’s widely popular book The Front Runner chronicled a gay romance between a running coach and his athlete.
Dave Kopay became the first NFL player to come out publicly as gay.
The first gay rodeo took place in Reno, NV.
After undergoing gender reassignment surgery, a court ruled that Renee Richards could compete in tennis’ US Open as a woman. She lost in the first singles competition but made it to the finals in the doubles.
Glenn Burke, an African-American baseball player thought to have co-originated the “high five,” came out as gay to his teammates.
The inaugural Gay Games took place in San Francisco.
Writing for the Anchorage Daily News, Roger Brigham became the first openly gay sports journalist at a major metropolitan newspaper.
One of the most talented tennis players in history, Martina Navratilova came out.
Bodybuilder Bob Paris won the title of Mr. Universe. Six years later, he came out and advocated for gay rights on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
After getting outed, MLB umpire Dave Pallone was dismissed from his job.
Equestrian Robert Dover became the first publicly gay Olympic athlete.
Brian Boitano became the figure skating champion at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
On the TV show Donahue, Roy Simmons, a former NFL player, came out as gay.
Missy Giove, a mountain bike racing pioneer, came out.
Greg Louganis, a four-time Gold Medal Champion, came out as both gay and HIV-positive in a widely-watched interview with Barbara Walters.
Muffin Spencer-Devlin became the first professional golfer to come out publicly.
Figure skater Rudy Galindo won the U.S. national champion.
Billy Bean, a former professional baseball player, came out
Brian Sims became the first openly gay football captain in the history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Now he is a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights established the Sports Project, which seeks to end homophobia and transphobia in sports by means of litigation, outreach, and advocacy.
Former football player Esera Tuaolo broke ground by opening up about being gay.
Shedding light on homophobia and racism in professional baseball, Take Me Out by Richard Greenberg premiered on Broadway. It also won the Tony Award for Best Play.
Figure skater Johnny Weir started his three-year streak of winning the U.S. national champion.
Jennifer Harris, a basketball player on the Pennsylvania State University Lady Lions, filed a lawsuit against her university due to the homophobic discrimination she received from her coach, Rene Portland.
Sports journalist Christine Daniels came out as a trans woman in the Los Angeles Times.
John Amaechi became the first former basketball player to come out publicly.
As the Oregon State softball coach, Kirk Walker became the only openly gay coach of a Division I sport.
After coming out, Brendan Burke, an ice hockey player and manager, started a public conversation on the culture of homophobia in sports.
Sherri Murrell became the first openly lesbian coach in Division I women’s basketball.
Kye Allums, a member of the women’s basketball team at George Washington University, came out as a trans man.
Lana Lawless, a professional golfer, filed a lawsuit against the Ladies Professional Golfing Association, which was refusing to allow her to compete due to her trans identity. Ultimately Lawless won the case.
Sheryl Swoopes was deemed one of the fifteen greatest players in league history at the WNBA All-Star Game.
Straight wrestler Hudson Taylor founded Athlete Ally, an organization combatting homophobia and transphobia in athletic communities.
Rick Welts, a high-ranking sports executive, came out as gay.
WNBA star Seimone Augustus came out while voicing her support for gay marriage.
Sports journalist LZ Granderson acknowledged his gay identity in a column for CNN.com.
At the age of 64, Diana Nyad became the first known person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.
Michael Sam became the first publicly gay football player to be drafted in the NFL.
After coming out, NBA superstar Jason Collins was featured on the cover of the “100 most influential people” edition of Time magazine.
Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympic medal-winning decathlete and reality television star, came out as trans, quickly becoming one of the most visible and famous trans women in history.
Leo Baker, a non-binary skateboarder, won the Street League Skateboarding Super Crown World Championship.
Named Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year in 1999, Brian Anderson came out, making him the first openly gay professional skateboarder.
Figure skater Adam Rippon represented the U.S. at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where he won a bronze medal.
Star soccer player and LGBT activist Megan Rapinoe won gold with the American team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
College wrestler Michael Johnson was released from prison after serving five and a half years of an outrageous thirty-year sentence for not disclosing his HIV status to sex partners.
In an interview with The New York Times, Hig Roberts, a two-time U.S. national champion, becomes the first elite men’s Alpine skier to publicly come out as gay, hoping to encourage others to be themselves.