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Article written by Maya Vukovska

Professional sports and military are perhaps the two last bastions of heteronormativity. And because homosexuality in sports is pretty much a taboo, the coming-outs of gay athletes are still a rare commodity. This, of course, doesn’t mean that there are zero gay athletes who dare to be open and honest about who they are. Check out our list of seven prominent American athletes who are out and proud.

7. Michael Sam

Sam the Ram has played the role of a Biblical patriarch for all the NFL gay players out there. The former defensive end of St. Louis Rams, Dallas Cowboys, and Montreal Alouettes is the first openly gay man in the NFL. Five years ago, Sam came out publicly to media outlets. The same year he was drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft. Just half an hour after the stellar college football star was drafted, there were 110, 000 tweets about the event, including supportive reactions to his coming out from his teammates. Sam claimed he wasn’t looking for all that attention; he just wanted to play football, but he wanted it to be “in an authentic way”.
Currently, the 29-year-old player is retired, and is doing just fine, thank you very much.

6. Gus Kenworthy

His quick kiss with BF, actor Matthew Wilkas, before his qualifying run in the men’s slopestyle at the Winter Olympics in South Korea last year was broadcast by NBC to millions of viewers and madly spread around social media. The 27-year-old British-born free skier (and actor!) from Colorado won a silver medal during his first Olympics in 2014 in Sochi, Russia, but he didn’t come out until a year later. He said he did it because he wanted to help kids who are in the same position he was. Thus, Kenworthy became the first action-sports star to come out. The skier guest starred in the third episode of this year’s season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, playing one of the available bachelors in the “Snatch Game of Love”.

5. Adam Rippon

The 29-year-old figure skater has been openly gay since October 2015, and has become the oldest American rookie to skate for team USA in the Olympics since 1936! Because homophobia was something he felt growing up, he thought it would be better if he dealt with his homosexuality when he was absolutely ready for that. That’s why, he first made sure he was doing well in his sport of choice and that he’d be a good representation of the LGBTQ community before he made the public statement.

Apart from skating, Rippon made some memorable TV appearances. In 2018, he competed on Season 26 of Dancing with the Stars. And this year, he guest hosted Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and also appeared in Taylor Swift’s You Need to Calm Down music video.

4. Jason Collins

“I am a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black and I’m gay.” This was Collins’s straight-to-the-point coming out statement which he made in an interview with Sports Illustrated in 2013. This made him the first active athlete to come out as gay in any of the four major American sports. And we say “active”, because quite a few fellow gay players, like NBA center John Amaechi, for example, waited until retirement to publicly reveal their sexual orientation. On the day the magazine was released, this cover story drew a record 3.7 million visitors to the magazine’s website.
Teammates, league executives, and major stars, like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, raised hats to Collins’s announcement. In April, 2014, the basketball player appeared on the cover of Time Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World”. The same year, he started dating producer Brunson Green. Currently, the couple is still together and apparently very much in love.

3. Robbie Rogers

The LA Galaxy defender came out while announcing his retirement in 2013. This is what he wrote on Instagram, “My only regret in my 11-year career are the years spent in the closet. I wish I could have found the courage that so many young individuals have shared with me in the past five years to live honestly and openly as a gay person. These are the young people that inspired me to overcome my fears and return to playing.” The reason why Rogers retired at such a young age was because he wanted to avoid the pressure from “the circus” (as he called the fans and the press), and because he knew what would follow - people coming to see him play just because he’s gay.

2. Greg Louganis

The strikingly beautiful four-time gold medal Olympic champion diver of Samoan and Swedish descent came out as gay in 1994 via a broadcast message at the Gay Games in New York City. Six years earlier, in 1988, he was diagnosed with HIV. After coming out, Louganis received hundreds of messages from strangers saying he had saved their lives by making this announcement. Empowered by people’s warmth and love, the champion stopped torturing himself about having contracted HIV because he had unprotected sex with other gay men. He could finally return to normal life. Now, the 59-year-old Louganis is coaching divers of various age in Fullerton, CA. He is also a gay rights activist, and an HIV awareness advocate. All in all, the guy keeps himself extremely busy all year round. He writes books, acts in movies, and… competes in dog agility competitions. As for his love life, in 2013 married his partner, paralegal Johnny Chaillo.

1. Sonny Kiss

The 25-year-old flamboyant professional wrestler is also known in the entertainment circles under the names of Exolicious and XO Lishus. Kiss has an extensive background in dance, which, he claims, comes in handy in his wrestling. In an interview with Wrestling Inc, Sonny Kiss says that he’s the authentic version of the great, “feminine” wrestler characters he’s been compared with - Goldust, Rico and Valveteen Dream. He calls himself a male, but identifies as gender-neutral to the public.

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