The 9 Queerest Moments at the 2020 Olympics

No matter how they performed, these stellar athletes from around the world all took home gold for Team LGBTQ+.

The long-awaited 2020 Olympics officially ended on Sunday (August 8), but we’re still riding the high of following the queerest Games to date. According to Outsports, more than 180 openly LGBTQ+ athletes competed in Tokyo, Japan. That’s more than double the amount of out Olympians who participated in the 2016 Games.

Below, read up on nine unforgettable moments involving out athletes from the 2020 Olympics.

  1. Sue Bird’s flagbearer status

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The out basketball star (and fiancée to fellow Olympic athlete Megan Rapinoe) was honored as one of two flagbearers for Team USA at the opening ceremony on July 23.

  2. Tom Daley’s first gold medal

    Fred Lee/Getty Images

    On July 26, the openly gay British diver and vocal LGBTQ+ advocate took home gold for the first time in his 13-year Olympic career. (He also knitted a tiny pouch for his medal, which is the most delightfully British thing we’ve ever seen.)

    “I feel incredibly proud to say I’m a gay man and also an Olympic champion,” Daley told reporters after medaling with his diving partner Matthew “Matty” Lee. “I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone, and that you can achieve anything.”

  3. Alana Smith’s pronouns on their skateboard

    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The nonbinary athlete was already making history by repping Team USA in skateboarding, a brand new Olympic sport, but they took things one step further by etching their pronouns onto their board. (As Vice reported, Smith was unfortunately misgendered in a broadcast from the Olympic Broadcasting Services, a company created by the Olympics to provide coverage for cable nets. A spokesperson for the company has since apologized.)

  4. Erica Sullivan’s silver medal — and heartfelt speech

    ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

    The out swimmer for Team USA took home silver on July 27, but it was her heartfelt speech after medaling that really captured our attention.

    “Just me getting to the podium, in Japan, as an Asian American woman taking silver in a historical women’s event for the first time as someone who likes women and identifies as gay — it’s so cool,” Sullivan told reporters in Tokyo. “I’m multicultural. I’m queer. I’m a lot of minorities. That’s what America is.”

  5. Nesthy Petecio’s emotional dedication to “the LGBTQ community”

    LUIS ROBAYO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

    After scoring a silver medal for the Philippines on August 3, the featherweight boxer used her platform to elevate the queer community.

    “This win is for the LGBTQ community,” an emotional Petecio told reporters in Tagalog, according a translation from ESPN. “Let’s go, fight!”

  6. Laurel Hubbard’s historic participation

    Wally Skalij /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

    The weightlifter from New Zealand made history as the first transgender woman to compete at the Games. She failed to advance in her weightlifting class on August 2 and didn’t end up medaling, but that didn’t stop her from smiling ear-to-ear.

  7. Raven Saunders’s bittersweet win

    INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

    The out athlete won silver for Team USA in the women’s shot put, but her victory was bittersweet: Saunders’s mother passed away on August 3, just days after the 25-year-old Olympian medaled. Her mom was able to watch a broadcast of Saunders competing.

    “I feel like the biggest takeaway from everything is that my mom was watching me,” Saunders told reporters. “I’ve had so many people send me pictures and videos with her in it, with a smile bigger than I’ve ever seen on her face before.”

  8. Quinn’s groundbreaking gold medal win

    TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

    The 25-year-old midfielder for Canada’s women’s soccer team became the first openly nonbinary athlete to win a gold medal at the Olympics. It was a major moment for Canada — and for trans and nonbinary athletes around the world, especially as their right to participate in sports continues to come under attack.

  9. Gold medalists Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, the “greatest teammates” ever

    ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

    That’s five-time gold medalists Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi to you! On August 8, the all-star athletes took home gold for Team USA’s women’s basketball yet again.

    “They are two of the greatest teammates in the history of sports,” said UConn’s Geno Auriemma, the basketball coach who first brought them together. “Even if you only used UConn, or only the Olympics, or only Europe. Throw in all three, and no one even comes close.

    Bird also got a shout-out from her aforementioned fiancée on Instagram. “I am so proud of you @sbird10,” wrote Megan Rapinoe. “As if I could love you any more. Congrats baby! 🥇”

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.
@_sammanzella