This article was published on August 28th, 2016
The 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games have now come to a close, and athletes, coaches, officials, media, and others have returned home, to return to their regular lives. The 2016 Rio Olympics were, however, not only an amazing 17 days of sports and entertainment, bringing together some of the worlds greatest athletes for the opportunity to represent their countries on the world stage in the most prestigious events of the sporting calendar. They also showcased an incredible and record-breaking moment in history for the global LGBT community, with record numbers of out athletes, a married couple, proposals and more. Reflecting back on these Olympic Games, it is clear that LGBT community has come a long way, and while there is still a significant amount of work to be done all around the world, it is an exciting time for global LGBT movement.
The Rio Olympic Games saw a record number of out athletes and coaches participating, Outsports.com reported at least 55 out gay athletes and three coaches taking part. With more than one same-sex marriage proposal and the highest ever media coverage of LGBT athletes the games were a ground-breaking and defining moment in LGBT history. Not to mention that LGBT athletes outperformed their straight counterparts, not that its a competition or that the LGBT community in any way condone creating a competitive and divisive atmosphere between the gay and straight communities etc. But if anyone were too, they would see that LGBT athletes would have won, with an outstanding 47% of gay athletes getting medals. In fact, gay athletes combined outperformed every single country that criminalises gay sex, a happy little statistic to round off a phenomenal event for gay rights.
Although there were no trans athletes participating in the Rio Olympic Games, this did mark the first Olympic games in which the International Olympic Committee has regulated to allow for this. Trans athletes can now officially participate in all Olympic Games and we can look forward to celebrating the achievements of trans athletes at future Olympic Games. This is further evidence of the LGBT movement moving forward at a global level.
While the 2016 Rio Olympic Games were largely a positive event and cause for celebration, there was one particular occurrence that highlighted how far we still have to go, and that was the outing of several athletes by a thoughtless straight journalist who cruised Grindr to ‘expose’ athletes. The behaviour of said journalist was utterly detestable and deplorable, no straight person will ever understand the pain and anguish caused by having your sexual identity revealed without your consent. It is invasive, damaging and downright dangerous. This journalist risked the lives of Olympic athletes and members of the gay community by callously deciding that their own sexual identity, the most intimate facet of any human, was tabloid fodder, and badly written tabloid fodder at that. This pathetic piece of pseudo journalism highlights the unfortunate truth that, although we are making strides in the LGBT movement, we still have a way to go before we reach a place of unhindered tolerance and respect.
That being said, while we still have strides to take and battles to win, it is nice sometimes to just stop and appreciate how far gay rights, issues, and awareness have come over the years. The LGBT community is, and continues to be, strong, united, unwavering and a fabulously unstoppable force that continuously moves forward towards it ultimate goal of equality and nothing less. In spite of everything we face, and have faced in the past, we aren’t going down, we are emerging bigger and better than ever before, and we are winning. Events like the Olympic Games remind us of that fact and this deserves a celebration.