Pro sports hasen’t always been friendly to LGBT athletes, who can still face backlash from teammates or lose sponsorships if they come out. But times are changing, and queer Olympians are helping in a major way.
In 2014, seven out athletes competed in the Sochi Winter Games, all of them women. At this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, even more queer athletes are slated to compete.
Below, we highlight three amazing women who’ve helped make the Olympics a more welcoming place for LGBT athletes.
Snowboarder Belle Brockhoff
Out since 2013, this 24-year-old Australian didn’t medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but she did speak out against Russia’s gay-propaganda ban.
“I’m not afraid of these laws and I want others that live in Russia, who are homosexuals, to see that,” she told BBC Sports.
Brockhoff has been sharing photos from recent training sessions and tweets in support of both the #TimesUp movement and equal marriage in her homeland.
Yay!!! Congrats!! https://t.co/0Egvu088ZO
— Belle Brockhoff (@bellebrockhoff) January 9, 2018
Speed Skater Ireen Wüst
Wüst, 31, has won four gold medals for the Netherlands, her first at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, when she was just 19.
Since then she’s become the most successful Dutch athlete to compete in the Olympics and was named Reuters’ Sportswoman of the World in 2014.
Wüst, who identifies as bisexual, publicly announced her relationship with girlfriend Letitia de Jong last year.
Snowboarder Cheryl Maas
Maas, another Dutch Olympian, competed in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi but said she was “disappointed” at the International Olympic Committee’s decision to hold the games in a country with such a bad record of civil rights abuses.
“With the choice for Russia, the IOC is taking a step back in time,” the 24-year-old told NU Sports. “Russia lives in the past while looking to the future.”
It’s time for the lion in me to rise up and roar ! Proud to be a part of this colorful team again! ✌ #3X
Pim Ras Fotografie#orangeisthenewblack #snowboarding#olympischespelen2018 #roadtokorea #teamnl #teamoranje #olympics #olympischespelen #olympics2018 pic.twitter.com/3GO8bp0dak
— Cheryl Maas (@cherylmaas) January 4, 2018
Maas is married to retired Norwegian snowboarder Stine Brun Kjeldaas: The couple have two daughters, Lara and Mila, both of who make frequent appearances on Maas’ social media.
It feels great to pass knowledge and experience on to the next generation. I might not be that book smart but I can definitely show her how much fun you can have outdoors and respect nature! To be kind and to follow your passion. That shit will get you a long way #letthekidsridefree #onelife #nextgeneration . . #toomuchfun #kids #snowboarding #shredoptics #funtimes #funseeker #naturegram #respectnature #followyourpassion #lifesmart #snowlife #myway #dowhatyoulove #livelife #newweek #timeofmylife #ridingisthereason #roadtokorea #rockstarsnow #rockstarenergy #girlswhoshred #snowboard #snowboarden #olympics2018
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held February 9 to 25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, we incorrectly reported that Wüst and partner Letitia de Jong were married. We apologize for the error.