Several openly LGBT athletes are slated to head to Pyeongchang next month to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the most ever to participate in the Winter Games of the major international competition’s 94-year history. The first Winter Games event, held once every four years, convened in 1924, in Chamonix, France.
At the 2014 games in Sochi, seven openly LGBT athletes competed, all of whom were women. Russia’s harsh anti-LGBT agenda made public expression of support for the LGBT community a risk for both Olympic athletes and attendees.
Unfortunately, while there are many talented and successful transgender athletes around the globe, there are no openly transgender athletes competing in the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. The same was true at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Gus Kenworthy will be representing the U.S. in his second Olympics, but his first as an openly gay athlete. The slopestyle skier from Telluride, Colo., who came out in 2015, struggled with Russia’s harsh anti-LGBTQ climate during the Sochi games. “I never got to be proud of what I did in Sochi because I felt so horrible about what I didn’t do,” Kenworthy told HRC. “I didn’t want to come out as the silver medalist from Sochi. I wanted to come out as the best freeskier in the world.” Last year, Kenworthy received the HRC Visibility Award at the HRC Utah Gala.
Adam Rippon is the first openly gay U.S. male figure skater to compete in the Winter Olympics. From a small town in Pennsylvania, Rippon has grown to use his national platform for speaking out for LGBT issues since coming out in late 2015. Pioneering U.S. figure skaters Johnny Weir and Brian Boitano came out after their Olympic careers had ended.
Daniela Iraschko-Stolz will compete for Austria in her second Olympics. Iraschko-Stolz won the silver medal in ski jumping in Sochi, married her partner Isabel in 2013 and came out publicly before the 2014 Olympic Games.
Eric Radford, a Canadian pairs figure skater, is headed to his second Olympic games, but his first as an openly gay athlete. Radford, who with his skating partner Meagan Duhamel is a two-time world champion, came out in late 2014 — becoming the first international-level figure skater to come out publicly while competing.
Cheryl Maas will compete in halfpipe snowboarding, representing the Netherlands in her third Olympics. The two-time world champion is married to former snowboarder Stine Brun Kjedlaas.
Ireen Wüst is a contender to medal in long-track speed skating at Pyeongchang, her fourth Olympic games. Previously, the openly bisexual skater competed and medaled at the Vancouver and Sochi Games. Her partner, Letitia de Jong, is also a competitive speed skater.
Barbara Jezeršek and Belle Brockhoff, are likely but not yet confirmed to compete with team Australia. It would be Jezeršek’s third Olympics competing in cross-country skiing — but her first under the Australian flag. Jezeršek competed at the Vancouver and Sochi games for her native Slovenia. Brockhoff came out as a lesbian ahead of the 2014 Sochi games, her first Olympics, and is being considered a major contender to join the Australian snowboard cross team. Tim LeDuc, an openly gay pairs skater Tim, did not qualify for the U.S. Olympic team. However, he and skating partner Ashley Cain will be alternates.