Coming out in professional sports in 2017 is still incredibly tough. Sports have always held a perception of being solely for masculine, tough guys; however, LGBT athletes are just as strong, powerful, and successful as their heterosexual counterparts. Gay athletes have proven, through a new wave of athletes coming out, that LGBT athletes are in our sports midst. Here are five incredible, LGBT athletes coming out on top in 2017.
Harrison Browne made history as the first out transgender professional athlete in North America. A NWHL player for the Buffalo Beauts, Browne lead his team to the championships after a rocking season only to win the entire championships on March 19. Shortly after, Browne announced his retirement from professional hockey to finish his transition.
Amanda Nunes is the current women’s Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight champion and is an out lesbian with a girlfriend. Originally from Brazil, the mixed martial artist is the only lesbian champion in UFC history and first from Brazil. She has been out for three years and in a relationship with fellow UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff for four years.
Mack Beggs made international headlines as the first transgender boy to win a girl’s state wrestling contest in the United States. In a highly publicized and scrutinized move, the state of Texas made Beggs wrestle girls, despite lawsuits challenging their decision. In an ultimatum, Beggs was allowed to wrestle though albeit members of the opposite sex. He won the state finals and concluded his undefeated season as a high school junior.
My-King Johnson is the first openly gay scholarship major college football player in America. The Arizona State defensive end is 17 years old and has been out of the closet since age 12. The Arizona Wildcats signed him knowing he is gay, and Johnson hopes to eventually play with the National Football League. This would make him he first professional football player that happens to be gay.
Robbie Manson has been out publically since 2014. The New Zealand rower placed first in the New Zealand rowing championships after his fourth attempt and appearance at the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the same meet, his doubles partner and Manson also placed first, making this their 6th first place title. Manson hopes to go on the world championships and the next summer Olympics.
Is there an out LGBT athlete who has a story that has inspired you, or an out LGBT athlete that you believe deserves a shout-out? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.