There is so much potential for sport to unite us – you can see it when a home run falls over the fence, or a last minute goal hits the back of the net, or a marathon finish line is crossed – but the truth is that athletic institutions and communities has long been short when it comes to LGBTQ + involvement. Directly and indirectly, these institutions have often silenced LGBTQ + athletes and forced them to hide their identities in an environment that has often been closed and discriminatory.
We have a long way to go, but progress is being made. And it’s pretty clear who to thank for that: LGBTQ + athletes using their platforms to amplify the voices of their community. No one – including athletes, celebrities and other public figures – is ever required to come out or be an advocate for the LGBTQ + community, but for any LGBTQ + athlete who shares their gender or sexuality, the sports world becomes so much more inclusive for those that follow. Here are 22 LGBTQ + athletes who do just that, actively breaking boundaries, setting a good example and showing their pride from the ring, the field, the track, the ice rink and beyond.