Out and Proud Athletes

For further information on the following Out and Pround atheletes, we suggest you visit www.Outsports.com

Eric Anderson
Track coach and researcher
Nicknamed « Gumby, » he is an openly gay track coach in Southern California. Wrote « Trailblazing, » an autobiographical account of his coming out as an openly gay high school cross country coach. Anderson has done extensive research into gay athletes. Featured in a 2000

Alyson Annan, Carol Thate, field hockey
From Planet Field Hockey.com: « Annan, voted the best female hockey player in the world in 1999, is sharing a house in Amsterdam with her lover, former Dutch hockey captain Carole Thate, who led her side to a bronze medal in Sydney. »

Betty Baxter
Canadian national volleyball coach

Captain of the Canadian Olympic volleyball team in 1976. Head coach of the national program from 1979-81 when she was fired after months of speculation about her sexual orientation, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Billy Bean
Professional Baseball

Played for the Tigers, Dodgers and Padres. Bean came out publicly last year, most notably in a Sept. 1999 front page article in the New York Times. Bean talks about how he hid his homosexuality while a player, including having a wife of nine years and playing the day his lover died. Bean and his partner run a Miami restaurant and has become a high-profile spokesman for gay rights.

Mark Bingham

To know Bingham was to know someone who embraced life to its fullest. He ran with the bulls at Pamplona and once tackled the Stanford mascot at halftime of the Cal-Stanford football game. Our Los Angeles flag football team played against his from San Francisco twice, and both times Mark was their best player; intensely competitive yet fair and a great sportsman, someone who would knock you down with a stiff-arm, then inquire as to what bar we were all going to that night.

A 6’5 », 230-pound rugby player at Cal, Mark was not someone who would sit idly by when there was action afoot. So it was not a surprise when it became apparent he was among a group of passengers who took down hijacked Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, over the Western Pennsylvania countryside. The collective action is credited with preventing a larger loss of life had the plane crashed into government buildings in Washington. 

Sen. John McCain delivered a eulogy at a service for Bingham, saying: « « I very well may owe my life to Mark. « He supported me [in his presidential bid], and his support now ranks among one of the greatest honors of my life. … I love my country, but I cannot say I love it more or as well as Mark Bingham or the other heroes on United Flight 93. I thank him with the only means I possess by being as good of an American as he was. »

Bingham won the Fitzsimons Files 2001 person of the year award from journalist Peter FitzSimons, an Australian rugby writer.

Carol Blazejowski
Women’s Basketball
A star as a player and voted the top women’s college player of 1978. Now the general manager of the New York Liberty of the WNBA, Blazejowski acknowledges her sexuality but refuses to go much further. Newsday last year called her the first out team executive in sports. She was « outed » when the Liberty media guide mentioned that she lived with her partner, Joyce, and their two children. As Newsday said, « « None of the players were informed of Blazejowksi´s decision beforehand. When they heard about the media guide, this historic moment was simply no big deal. All the players know Blazejowski´s family. They are at every game. Her daughter, the cutest red­ haired kid in the Garden, usually finds her way onto the court to snuggle with Maddie, the floppy­ eared mascot. » « I´m glad she has the confidence and pride to say who she is, » Liberty forward Sue Wicks told Newsday. 

Geert Blanchart
Olympic speed skating

A Belgian short-track national team member, Geert competed at Gay Games IV in 1994 and in Gay Games V in in-line skating.

Nat Brown
Cross-country skiing

Brown is a two-time Olympic coach in has amassed 7 World Championships and two medals in his competitive career. A resident of Seattle, Washington, Nat works as a ski technician and remains active in coaching. 

Glenn Burke

Burke played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics and is credited with popularizing the « high five » in 1977. Burke faced prejudice during his career for being gay. « Being black and gay made me tougher, » Burke said in a 1994 interview. Burke died of AIDS in 1995.

Helen Carroll
Athletic diversity specialist

Carroll is blunt: « If we didn’t have lesbians in sports, we wouldn’t have women sports, » she said, adding that straight and gay women need to team up to fight a bigger battle: sexism in sports. She wrote us in March 2002: «  I am currently the Coordinator for the Homophobia in Sport Project for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) representing athletes, coaches, administrators and sport professionals who have been discriminated against in sport. We currently are working with an NCAA athlete and a professional athlete. Our toll free number is 1-800-528-6257 for anyone needing advice or help feeling they have been discriminated against. Our link is www.nclrights.org. My new e-mail is carroll@nclrights.org. »

Mark Chatfield
Olympic swimming

An All-American at the University of Southern California, Chatfield swam in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Once held the record in the 100-meter breaststroke. He has swam at meets of the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics.

Updated: Greg Condon
High school football
Condon played high school football in rural Pennsylvania. As ABC’s 20/20 said: « In 1998, in Pennsylvania, Greg’s teammates discovered he was gay. He says they turned against him and harassed and threatened him. Fearing for his safety, Greg quit the team. He eventually dropped out of school. »

Scott Cranham
Olympic diving

Canadian diver holds 28 masters title in his country. Competed at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Has competed at meets of the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics.

Updated: Mike Crosby
Water polo
Crosby, a Southern California native, played water polo for Harvard.

Chris Dickerson
Professional bodybuilding

Dickerson won the Mr. Olympia title in 1982, emblematic of the world’s top bodybuilder. He was master of ceremonies at the physique competition at Gay Games III in Vancouver in 1990.

Robert Dover

We received this great e-mail from Robert on Thanksgiving:

« In Sydney I competed in my fifth 5th Olympics as an out, gay athlete from the sport of equestrian. I went on to win my third consecutive bronze medal from the last three games.

« Sydney was fantastic in every way and, interestingly, as the three teams stood on the podiums, I noted that the three males who won medals were all gay (two American and one Dutch). There was also at least one closeted lesbian. I can tell you that gays take part in the majority of sports. Both David Pichler and I were elected Team Captains for our sports and I sit on the Athletes Advisory Council to the USOC. »

Updated: Andre Espaillat, motorcycle racing
Espaillat, 46, lives in the Dallas, Texas, area and road-races motorcycles with Championship Cup Series and WERA motorcycle roadracing. He is a three-time regional racing champ.

Justin Fashanu
English professional soccer

As well as playing for Torquay and Nottingham Forest, he played for Brentford and Heart of Midilothian in the Scottish Premier League. Fashnau committed suicide in 1996.

Gigi Fernandez and Conchita Martinez
Professional Tennis

Fernandez’s relationship with onetime Wimbledon champion Martinez « has long been an open secret on the woman’s tour among other players, » the Associated Press wrote in 1995. Fernandez retired in 1997. Martinez is still active. One source says he doesn’t think the two have been together for years. Fernandez was attending the University of South Florida as of Spring 2002.

Ed Gallagher
College Football

From ESPN: Gallagher « an offensive lineman for the University of Pittsburgh from 1977-79,jumps from a dam in 1985 12 days after his first sexual encounter with another man. He survives but is left a paraplegic. Gallagher says that before his suicide attempt, he had become unable to reconcile his image of himself as an athlete with gay urges. He later admits that the incident forced him to come to grips with his sexuality: « I was more emotionally paralyzed then, than I am physically now. » Gallagher, 43, still speaks at high schools and is founder of Alive to Thrive

Missy Giove
Mountain Biking

An out and proud lesbian, Giove, 28, has been called the Michael Jordan of her sport and has won world mountain biking championships. She also has competed on ESPN’s X-games. In 1997 she shocked the lesbian world by declaring she had fallen in love with an older man. Anybody know what Missy’s into these days?

We received this from a reader in November 2000: « I attended a Halloween dance in Durango (Colorado) this past October. Missy was there with longtime girlfriend Kristen Wilson. She must have gone through short term confusion in regards to relationship with « the older man ». She is very happy and very lesbian. »

Rudy Galindo
Figure Skating

The 1996 national men’s skating champion. Galindo’s autobiography is a compelling read with much more information about him, and is called « Icebreaker: the autobiography of Rudy Galindo. » Published by Pocket Books in 1997, with an updated paperback version issued in 1998, it was written with Eric Marcus, who also co-authored Greg Louganis’ Breaking the Surface. Icebreaker also is available in a Spanish edition. Galindo reveals he is HIV-positive in April 2000.

Ramona Gatto

A nine-time champion, Gatto regularly spars with men heavier than she is. Gatto is very out and very proud, telling Lesbianation: « I'm so proud that I'm able to help change people's perspectives on gays and lesbians. I used to be unnerved and unsure about how [my sexuality] would come across. Now I don't think about it—it's just who I am. »

Gatto tells Outsports: « I have a daughter, Marina, who I have raised myself.  Marina and I are both very involved in the gay and lesbian community. Marina belongs to COLAGE (Children Of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) and lectures all over Northern California about the wonderful life she has had as a child of an alternative family.  We march every year in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade. We have been featured on television specials on Sportschannel and ESPN among others.  I have traveled to various countries to defend my world titles, including Moscow, where I defended and won another world title against the Russian national champion in front of 30,000 people at the Moscow Olympic Stadium.  I am most often referred to by my ring name and professional reputation, « Kickboxing’s Bad Girl. »

Jim Graham

Graham is a United States Equestrian Team 3-Day Event Rider, having represented the U.S. in the 1994 World Equestrian Games in de Hague, Netherlands. He is currently a selector for the United  States Equestrian Team and was responsible for helping select the 2000 team in Sydney.

Gina Guidi
Professional Boxer

Gudi is a talented boxer who is totally out. As her partner Diane Butler told Curve Magazine: « People accept Gina as a boxer, not as a woman boxer, and our relationship is accepted as well. She tends to break all the stereotypes. »

Matthew Hall
Canadian figure skater

Hall came out in 1992 as an active competitor. Won gold medal at Gay Games IV in 1994.

Savoy Howe
Canadian boxer
Pioneer in women’s boxing. Said her appearance in a 1993 documentary about gay athletes, « was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. I had no choice, I’d outed myself and people had to deal with it. »

Bruce Hayes
Olympic swimmer

Olympic gold medallist in 1984 and spokes-model for Gay Games IV in his hometown on New York, Hayes has long been a fixture on the gay swimming scene and has set several Masters swimming records.

Helen Hull Jacobs
Professional Tennis

Won nine Grand Slam titles in the late 1920s and ’30s. « When she dies in 1997 at the age of 88, her obituary lists her longtime female companion, Virginia Gurnee, as her survivor, » The Advocate reports.

Patrick Jeffrey
Olympic Diving

Openly gay, Jeffrey competed in the 1988 and 1996 Summer Olympics. Named Florida State’s head diving coach in 1999.

Corey Johnson
High school Football

Johnson, while not considered an elite athlete, has inspired many with his story of coming out as an openly gay high school football captain. You can read his story on Outsports.

Billie Jean King
Professional Tennis

One of the greatest tennis players of all-time. King is a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion and four-time U.S. Open champion. The Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Long Beach, Calif., honors the hometown hero.

David Kopay
Professional football

His book « The David Kopay Story: An extraordinary self-revelation » has long inspired gays who struggle with their sexuality. Kopay played pro football for the 49ers, Lions, Redskins, Saints and Packers from 1964-72 and came out in 1975. He still is active as a speaker and lives in Los Angeles.

Updated: Alex Kostich
Kostich is an accomplished swimmer who hold several Masters records and is a three-time gold medalist at the Pan-Am Games/. He won a gold medal at the 1998 Gay Games in Amsterdam and was profile in Genre in 2001. He lives in Burbank, Calif.

Mark Leduc
Olympic boxing

Won the silver medal for Canada at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.

Dave Lohse
College athletics administrator

Since 1977, Lohse has worked as the associate athletic communications director at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to that he worked as a student assistant in the athletic communications office at Purdue University while an undergraduate.

Greg Louganis
Olympic diving

Won four gold medals in diving at the 1984 and ’88 Olympic Games. Publically came out in 1994 at Gay Games IV where he served as a spokesman. Wrote best-seller « Breaking the Surface » in 1995..

Brian Marshall
Olympic high jump
Won Pac-10 high jump championship while at Stanford in 1988.

Amelie Mauresmo
Professional Tennis

This 20-year-old French tennis player is out and proud. After a tournament win in 1999, Mauresmo talked about how comforting it was to look up in the stands and see her girlfriend, Sylvie Bourdon, 31. « Looking up at Sylvie during the match was that little extra support that I needed, » Mauresmo was quoted in USA Today. « Finding Sylvie and having such a good personal life now has made the difference in my tennis. It had been the missing part of my life. »

Doug Mattis
Professional Figure Skating

Mattis came out in 1996 shortly after national champion Rudy Galindo.

Updated: Ryan Miller

Miller is a professional snowboarder, originally from Pennsylvania. As he writes on his Web site:
« 2000/2001 was also the season that I decided to come « out » as a snowboarder.  In the past, I had kept my sexuality a secret, fearing retaliation/repercussions from the industry and competitors. The industry is in some ways still very much tied to old world Europe and the competitors are not always the most open to diversity, just as the rest of society is not always accepting. »

Updated: Jen Moore, softball
Moore is an out and proud athlete for the University of Pennsylvania. As see wrote to Outsports in January 2002: « It is important that we make this world easier to live in for future generations. We have a legacy we have to carry on; the courage of past queer individuals clearly has had an influence on all of our lives . . . and we need to carry on that tradition. »

Mike Muska
Oberlin (Ohio) College athletic directo
Only openly gay male AD in the U.S.

Martina Navratilova
Professional Tennis

Navratilova, who will play in doubles at Wimbledon in June 2000, has won more professional tennis matches than any other player, male or female. Notable for having been out most of her professional career. 

Diana Nyad
Long-distance swimmer

Longtime television (now with Fox) and National Public Radio commentator, Nyad in 1979 swam 102.5 miles from Florida to the Bahamas, setting a record that still stands. A quote: « I  am willing to put myself through anything; temporary pain or discomfort means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level. I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the unknown is through breaking barriers, an often-painful process. »

Brian Orser
Olympic Figure Skating

From ESPN: « Orser, former world figure skating champion and two-time Canadian Olympic silver medallist, is revealed in 1998 as gay in an palimony suit filed by an ex-boyfriend. In an affidavit in which he argued to keep the suit’s documents sealed, Orser says, « Other skaters, both Canadian and American, guard their gayness closely because of the likely impact of public disclosure on their careers. »

Dave Pallone
Major League Baseball umpire

Fired in 1988 for alleged involvement in a teenage sex ring, charges that were proved to be groundless. Pallone said the real reason he was fired was for being gay. Wrote « Behind the Mask, » his story of life as an umpire.

Bob Paris
Professional bodybuilding

Mr. Universe contest winner, author of several books. Had celebrated and very public relationship with Rod Jackson. The two have since broken up.

Pat Patterson
Professional Wrestling

Yeah, we know pro wrestling is entertainment, but we’ll take openly gay people where we can get them. We found numerous references to Patterson being out.

David Pichler
Olympic Diving

Openly gay, Pichler competed in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. Competing in his final Olympics in Sydney, the 32-year-old from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., had an uneven competition. In his individual event Pichler finished ninth in the 10-meter platform. In two synchronized events he and Troy Dumais finished just two points from a bronze medal in the 3-meter springboard; while he and Mark Ruiz were a disappointing seventh in the 10-meter platform

Peter Prijdekker
Olympic swimming

Dutch swimmer, competed at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. At Gay Games V in Amsterdam in 1998 set a European masters record at age 50 in men’s freestyle. Also set two Masters marks in his age group at Gay Games IV in New York in 1994. Has swam at meets of the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics.

Ryan Quinn
Nordic skiing
The Alaskan native skis for the University of Utah. Earned all-America status for five consecutive years at Junior Nationals and raced in Sweden with Junior Olympic Team in 1999. He’s also a  member of the National Honor Society and made the Dean’s List for Fall semester 2001.

Here is part of a letter Ryan wrote to Outsports: « I came out to my team and coach just last spring. It was sort of uneventful, except that it was a huge relief. Not a single person, on the team or otherwise, has had any negative comments. Each person even came up to me after they found out and said they liked me and my being gay wouldn’t change anything. I can talk easily to my closer friends on the team about boyfriends, problems I’m having, etc. and it no longer seems like a big deal to anyone. Anyway, I do not want to take any of this for granted, but I have noticed a problem that I didn’t really expect. I’ve always heard from people that they worry about me coming out because people are not going to agree with my sexuality and I will experience harassment and hate, especially in sport. But no one ever seems to worry that the isolation, silence, and loneliness is forcing gay athletes to not be themselves. I don’t know a single other gay person in the Athletic department here. I’m sure there are other gay athletes competing for Utah and I don’t think anyone should come out if they don’t want to, but I would like to get the message across that they should not hide their sexuality only because of fear of homophobia. I am not an activist and have no real desire to be, but I want to offer support or my experience to other athletes who are unsure about how others will treat them. I think if I had known that another athlete here was gay, I would have come out to him first and that would have helped me deal with the anxiety of coming out to a sports team. » 

Ian Roberts
Professional Rugby

A star in the ultra-macho rugby league world in Australia, Roberts has been out since 1991. He retired in 1999. At one point he was the highest-paid rugby league player in the world. Roberts told an interviewer in 1996: « I take offense at the old locker room argument which assumes a man cannot, in any circumstances, control his urges. Any self-respecting human being can respect the rights and ways of another human being. The idea, then, that gays can convert, or want, heterosexual guys, is ludicrous. We want to play the game, not the field. » 

Craig Rogerson
Olympic diving

Australian diver finished 12th in the 10-meter event at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Patty Sheehan
Professional Golf

Hall of Famer on the LPGA tour with 35 victories, Sheehan, 43, came out in a 1998 Golf World column when she detailed the adoption of her daughter with her partner, Rebecca Gaston.

« I didn’t really know how well others would deal with the idea of Bryce having two moms, but I’ve decided if they have a problem with it, it’s their problem, not mine, » Sheehan wrote in the column. « There are too many children in this world who don’t have an equal chance in life and who aren’t loved to worry about what other people think. We have the means to provide Bryce with a comfortable upbringing and, more importantly, we have the desire to be loving and devoted mothers….Bryce knows that she’s loved and wanted now. » 

« I think there are a lot of men and women like me-people who spent much of their 20s and 30s devoting themselves to their careers, and put off starting a family until their 40s. After years of believing we would make ideal parents-and having many of our friends and family tell us the same thing-it’s been wonderful to finally take on this new challenge. »

Roy Simmons
Professional Football

Played as an offensive lineman for the New York Giants and Washington Redskins from 1979-83.

Updated: Dwight Slater
College Football
Slater played on the Stanford football team but left after coming out.

David Slattery
National Football League general manager

Slattery was GM of the Washington Redskins in the early 1970s and came out in 1993.

Muffin Spencer-Devlin
Professional Golf

Spencer-Devlin comes out in an article in Sports Illustrated in 1996.

Jerry Smith
Professional Football

Star tight end for the Washington Redskins from 1965-77. Caught 421 passes in his career and scored 60 touchdowns. Never publicly acknowledged he was gay.  Died of AIDS in 1987.

Mark Tewksbury
Olympic swimming

Canadian Olympian and gold medal winner in the 100-meter backstroke at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Tewksbury was never closeted but publicly came out in 1998 and is now a sought-after speaker. A quote from Mark:  « For the record, I’m not just gay-I’m a screaming queen! »

Bill Tilden
Professional Tennis

For decades « Big Bill'' Tilden stood alone as an example of an athlete who was known to be gay. In 1949 the National Sports Writers Association named him the most outstanding athlete of the first half of the century. His accomplishments in the 1920s were legendary: seven U.S. Open titles, three Wimbledon championships, seven U.S. clay court titles and six U.S. doubles championships.

It wasn't until Tilden's athletic skills began to fade in the 1930s that his homosexuality became known in the tennis world. In this less-tolerant era he was slowly ostracized and excluded from major tennis tournaments. Twice—in 1946 and then in 1949—Tilden was arrested and jailed for « contributing to the delinquency of a minor'' after incidents involving boys 14 and 16 in Los Angeles. He died in 1953, at age 60, according to his biographer Frank Deford, « in his cramped walk-up room near Hollywood and Vine, where he lived out his tragedy, a penniless ex-con, scorned, forgotten, alone.''

Dan Veatch
Olympic swimming

Competed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Still holds the Princeton record in the 200 backstroke. U.S. Open men’s swimming champion in same event 1987-89-90-91. Has swam at meets of the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics.

Tom Waddell
Olympic Decathlon

Placed sixth in the decathlon in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City at age 38. He founded the Gay Games, which had its first competition in 1982 and has been held every four years since. Died of AIDS in 1987.

Mark Welsh
Welsh founded Team Flame, a support group for out elite athletes. 

Updated: Dan Woog
Woog coaches soccer in Connecticut. A writer and journalist, Woog is the author of « Jocks: True Stories of Gay America’s Straight Athletes. »  « Jocks II » is due out in Fall 2002.

Aylssa Wykes
Women’s professional football
Wykes is a running back for the Philadelphia Liberty Belles. She came out as a lesbian in the December/January 2002 edition of Sports Illustrated for Women. « Of course I am a lesbian, » Wykes said in the article. « I’ve had a partner for the last six years, and it’s been awesome. I guess you can call this my coming out party. » 

Wykes’ honesty did not sit well with Catherine Masters, owner of the league. « It really hurt us, » Masters told the Washington Blade. « Everyone knows that gay people are in every professional sports league. But you don’t see them coming out. » 

Marie Olsen, owner of the Liberty Belles, flatly contradicted Masters, telling the Blade she has received nothing but positive feedback, and adding: « I found the article very informative, amusing, funny, and fantastic. And the pictures were great. I didn’t perceive it the same way that [Masters] did. … What shocked me is that they printed [Wykes’s] weight. Every women in America is going to laugh at that — that’s more sacred than anything else. » 


Adapted from the article ‘Out and Proud Atheletes’ provided to us by www.Outsports.com

Out and Proud Athletes, 2.0 out of 4 based on 1 rating

About AlterHéros

Depuis 2002, AlterHéros répond à vos questions en ligne au sujet de la diversité sexuelle, de la pluralité des genres et de la santé sexuelle en général. Nous organisons aussi des activités pour les jeunes LGBTQIA2S+ de 14 à 30 ans et leurs allié.e.s.

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