The sports world is still a difficult industry to be in for anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+, especially where male-dominated sports are concerned. But heterosexuality and sports do not go hand in hand, and these incredibly talented sports heroes are proving that you can be anything you want to be no matter what your sexuality.

Gareth Thomas

Former Welsh rugby league and rugby union player

Gareth came out as gay in 2009 while he was still an active rugby star, becoming the first openly gay rugby union player. He received Stonewall’s Hero of the Year award and won Sports Book of the Year for his 2015 autobiography Proud

Gareth Thomas, 2012 / Image credit: Sydney Alford/Alamy Stock Photo
Gareth Thomas, 2012 / Image credit: Sydney Alford/Alamy Stock Photo

In 2018, he was the victim of a homophobic attack in Cardiff, but requested that the perpetrator be dealt with by way of restorative justice. In 2019, Gareth revealed that he was HIV-positive, but with undetectable status, and he went on to talk about his illness in the documentary Gareth Thomas: HIV and Me.

Jake Daniels

Blackbool football forward

Back in May, 17-year-old Blackpool football player Jake Daniels became the first active player in the sport to come out as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990. 

Jake Daniels, 2022 / Image credit: News Images/Alamy Stock Photo
Jake Daniels, 2022 / Image credit: News Images/Alamy Stock Photo

“I hate knowing people are in the same situation I was in,” he told Sky Sports. “I think if a Premier League footballer does come out that would just be amazing. I feel like I would have done my job and inspired someone else to do that. I just want it to go up from here. We shouldn't be where we are right now.”

Orlando Cruz

Puerto Rican boxer

Lightweight boxer Orlando Cruz became the first active professional boxer to come out when he told the world he was gay in 2012. He was among the first to be inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2013; that same year he also married partner Jose Manuel Colon. 

Orlando Cruz at the Wynn Las Vegas in 2013 / Image credit: REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Alamy Stock Photo
Orlando Cruz at the Wynn Las Vegas in 2013 / Image credit: REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Alamy Stock Photo

In July 2016, he dedicated his match against Alejandro Valdez to those who were murdered in Florida’s Pulse nightclub shooting.

Megan Rapinoe

US Olympic soccer player

This soccer captain is hugely influential in women’s sports. She publicly came out in an article in Out magazine, the same year she won gold at the London 2012 Olympics.

Megan Rapinoe at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Final / Image credit: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Stock Photo
Megan Rapinoe at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Final / Image credit: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Stock Photo

She’s had a number of high-profile relationships including Aussie footballer Sarah Walsh, musician Sera Cahoone, and she is currently engaged to Seattle Storm basketball player Sue Bird with whom she became the first same-sex couple on the cover of ESPN's The Body Issue in 2018.

Nicola Adams

Former British Olympic boxer 

After retiring with an undefeated record, flyweight Nicola Adams is expecting a baby boy with her partner Ella Baig with whom she has been with since 2018.

Nicola Adams at the British LGBT Awards, 2019 / Image credit: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News
Nicola Adams at the British LGBT Awards, 2019 / Image credit: SOPA Images Limited/Alamy Live News

The first openly gay Olympic gold-medal winning boxer, Nicola was supposed to be part of the first same-sex couple to compete on Strictly Come Dancing in 2020, alongside Katya Jones, but they were forced to pull out when Jones tested positive for COVID-19.

Tom Daley

British Olympic diver

Tom Daley competed in his first major diving event at the age of just 12-years-old, and went on to win bronze at the 2012 London Olympics at 18. In 2013, he revealed publicly that he was in a relationship with Hollywood director Dustin Lance Black, but expressed that he was also attracted to women. The pair have been together nine years and married in Devon in 2017. They had their first child together in 2018 via surrogacy.

Tom Daley at the The Sport Industry Awards 2022 / Image credit: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo
Tom Daley at the The Sport Industry Awards 2022 / Image credit: PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Last year, Tom Daley revealed that he was campaigned for countries that punish homosexuality by death to be banned from the Olympic Games. 

MORE: Pride Month: The Satyr's Kiss, Gay Witchcraft and other must-read books for queer witches

Brian Vahaly

Former US tennis player

In 2017, Brian Vahaly became the first professional men’s tennis player ranked in the Top 100 to come out publicly as gay, as well as only the second ATP men’s player to come out after Francisco Rodriguez in 2008.

Brian Vahaly at the Australian Open in 2003 / Image credit: REUTERS/David Gray/Alamy Stock Photo
Brian Vahaly at the Australian Open in 2003 / Image credit: REUTERS/David Gray/Alamy Stock Photo

He’d retired in 2006, and there has still never been an openly gay active Grand Slam tournament player. An unsurprising fact, given how much hate Vahaly received after he disclosed his sexuality to the world. 


by for www.femalefirst.co.uk


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