The Olympics, both summer and winter, are a time of unity and patriotism as you take pride in your country’s sporting achievements. However, this union has been brought into question through the lack of representation of LGBTQI+ athletes, as well as ethnic minorities.
This year’s Winter Olympics were in Beijing. It has been well documented that there has been a record number of publicly out LGBTQI+ athletes involved, with around 35 members of the community competing. In comparison, the 2018 games only had 15 publicly out athletes competing.
Some examples of these impressive athletes – who are paving the way for further inclusiveness in sports and mainstream media – are highlighted below.
Timothy Leduc is documented as the first non-binary winter Olympian. They are part of Team USA for competitive figure skating. Leduc and their partner Ashley Cain Gribble came second with their beautiful performance. This is a hugely significant time in the Winter Olympics, demonstrating steps forward for this new sporting world to be as inclusive as possible.
Ireen Wust won six Olympic gold medals and became the first athlete to win individual gold at five different events. Her victory as a bisexual athlete was the first gold for the LGBTQI+ community at the Beijing Games. She won in women’s 1500 meters skating. As a result, she became the oldest speed skater to win the Olympic gold, proving that age is just a number.
Representation in Teams
The Canadian team has more openly LGBTQI+ athletes at the Beijing Games than anyone else, with team USA second on the list. Additionally, the UK pushed for LGBTQI+ visibility this year. Michaela Gherkin Schofield, a 22-year-old who identifies as pansexual, was in the running for a medal in the skiing category.
It is encouraging, uplifting, and necessary to document the progress of the LGBTQI+ community in the sporting world. It allows for members of this community to watch people who identify just as they do becoming top of their field. This was almost impossible a few years ago due to the amount of exclusion and divisiveness that remains in the world.
It is vital to report on these impressive and strong athletes who are breaking the glass ceiling and moving forward in the hope for equality. They are pushing to compete in a sporting world that they can be proud of.
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