Over a week since the flame was lit and the Olympic Games commenced, very few teams have gleamed as much as “Team LGBTQ” has in Tokyo thus far.
“Team LGBTQ” isn’t an official Olympic squad (yet), but that’s what the many in the LGBTQ community have deemed the coalition of LGBTQ athletes competing this year.
The team at Outsports has currently counted 178 individual athletes as out or openly identifying as part of the LGBTQ community, which is more than triple the amount of out athletes at the last Summer Olympics, which was counted at 56.
For the first time, that number includes at least four trans and non-binary athletes, all of whom are the first to participate in Olympic competition while out.
While weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to qualify for the Olympics, the events she’s competing in don’t begin until August 2. Shortly after the Games’ opening ceremony, Quinn, a soccer star for the Canadian women’s national team, became the first openly trans athlete to participate in an Olympic competition. They came out as transgender in September.
Skateboarder Alana Smith of Team USA, who is also non-binary, has also taken the rink, becoming the second. Unfortunately, the Olympics did not inform broadcasters of their identity and they/them pronouns, leading to Smith being misgendered and referred to by inaccurate pronouns by commentators and analysts in broadcasts, although they had “they/them” designed on their skateboard.
Smith wasn’t the only LGBTQ athlete facing disrespect while competing in Tokyo. This past weekend, former President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, calling them “losers” as his supporters booed them at a conservative-hosted rally.
The attacks came following their loss in the opening game of the Olympics soccer tournament, but they have since rebounded with two wins and are heading to the semi-finals, alongside Team Canada, who Quinn plays for, along with Sweden and Australia.
Overall, though, the out Olympic athletes that have already competed have had positive moments when they compete. Earlier this week, out diver Tom Daley earned his first Gold medal, 13 years after starting his Olympic career.
“I feel incredibly proud to say I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion,” the Briton said at a press conference after.
The LGBTQ athletes are representing over 30 countries, officially, but Outsports also reports that if they were a team of their own, Team LGBTQ would hold 11 medals, including 3 gold medals, at time of publication.
Basketball player Stefanie Dolson became the first out American athlete to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, winning in the 3-on-3 women’s basketball competition along with teammates Allisha Gray, Jackie Young, and Kelsey Plum.
Dolson plays for the Chicago Sky WNBA team and is known as “Big Mama Stef.”
Out American swimmer Erica Sullivan and softball players Ally Carda, Amanda Chidester, and Haylie McCleney have won silver medals for Team LGBTQ in addition to Team USA so far.
Another silver medal for Team LGBTQ came from Poland’s Katarzyna Zillmann, who publicly came out minutes after earning the medal in rowing.