Stepping out of the limelight of your sexuality to compete in competition, as a professional athlete, is one of the hardest things to do. Whether on a grassroots scale, or being watched by tens of thousands of roaring fans, it takes so much to forget about what others say and to perform regardless.
Some have discussed it openly, saying it makes them feel free. Where some, speaking speculatively, continue to maintain a secrecy over it.
Whatever being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender means to you, it does not change your ability to perform in competition. Such aspects of personality have not hindered the following athletes ability to perform on the highest level possible:
Tom Daley – the golden boy of British LGBT Olympians and diving sensation, Daley first came out in 2015. Via YouTube, he revealed his relationship with Hollywood screen writer Dustin Lance Black. The two subsequently became engaged. He has, over the course of a relatively short career, appeared at two Olympic Games, and taken medal positions at various Commonwealth Games and European Championships.
Gareth Thomas – once held the record for Wales most capped rugby union player, appearing between 1995 and 2007. When he came out I 2009, he was the first openly gay rugby union player, but insisted on being known “as a rugby player, but first a man”
Chris Mosier is a triathlete you are unlikely to have heard of, but became the first transgender triathlete to be selected for Team USA in the sprint duathlon squad, for the World Championships in 2016, and was then the first transgender athlete to appear in a Nike commercial.
Billie-Jean King was a hugely successful tennis player back in the 1970’s, and was famous for a high profile marriage to Larry King, who had helped establish the women’s pro tennis tour. King’s sexuality came to her own attention in 1968, and became public in 1981. The King’s divorced in the late 1980’s, whereupon Billie Jean had to continue to play tennis to pay for the divorce lawyers, having lost a huge amount of endorsements after her sexuality became public.
Casey Stoney – first rose to prominence as a defender with Charlton Athletic Ladies football club. After their disbanding in 2007, she played for Chelsea Ladies and Lincoln Ladies, and spent two years with the Arsenal Ladies team, where in 2014, she acknowledged she was gay. That same year, she announced her partner, former Lincoln teammate Megan Harris, was pregnant with twins. In October 2014, Stoney became a mother to a boy and a girl.