In the Tokyo Olympics, there were 142 openly LGBT athletes — a record number, really, even though Laurel Hubbard hogged most of the headlines at that time for being the first transgender athlete in the history of the Olympic Games.
Sadly, there will be no transgender athletes in Beijing, but more than 30 gay and non-binary athletes will participate. Of course, we cannot compare this number with the number of LGBT+ athletes at the Summer Olympics, but if we go back to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, you’ll see that there are twice as many athletes this time around.
Professional athletes from different sports categories are expected to attend the upcoming Games, including people from Canada, the US, UK, France, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. It’s still very unlikely that they all will be able to feel one hundred percent safe and welcomed in Beijing, as its citizens have been known to dislike the LGBTQ+ crowd. Although homosexuality has been decriminalized in China since 1997, and since 2001 it has not been considered a mental illness, it still does not treat members of the LGBTQ+ community very well.
Here is just a handful of the amazing athletes who will be competing in Beijing:
1. Bruce Mowat is the reigning world champion in mixed doubles in curling. In 2021, he represented Scotland, and now he’s on the British side.
2. Irene Wüst is one of the most decorated speed skaters in the world. The 35-year-old Dutch woman’s medal collection lists 11 medals from the Olympic Games (5 of which are gold). Irene officially came out as bisexual in 2009, and in 2017 registered a relationship with Laetitia de Jong, who, incidentally, is also a speed skater.
3. Belle Brokhoff — the Beijing Olympics is a debut for the 27-year-old 2021 snowboardcross world champion, but the Australian has every chance to take the gold medal. Broekhoff announced her orientation to the public in 2013 and has been fighting for equality for the LGBTQ+ community ever since.
4. Guillaume Cizeron is an openly gay 27-year-old French figure skater who competes with her skating gal-pal Gabriela Papadakis. In 2020, Cizeron posted a photo on Instagram with her partner, neatly timed to support the publication of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
5. Andrew Blaser is the first openly gay skeleton slider. So far, he has not shown any outstanding results but still continues to do his best. It’s probably due to the fact that he’s been looking for his perfect sport for a long time, dipping his toes in decathlon, cheerleading, and bobsleigh. Blazer revealed his orientation last year, although he had mentioned it on Instagram long before that.
6. Timothy LeDuc (they/them) — first non-binary skater plays for Team USA and performs in pair skating with Ashley Kane-Gribble. Many advised LeDuc not to reveal their gender identity, but they took a chance and opened up to the world. So far, so good!
7. Filippo Ambrosini is Team Italy’s secret weapon in the figure skating competition. Maybe he’s not as decorated as the rest of the athletes here, but even before the 2022 Olympics, Filippo had earned multiple titles (even though not as prestigious) with his lovely skating partner, Rebecca Ghilardi.
8. Brianne Jenner is a talented ice hockey player from Canada. That’s like their national sport, isn’t it? So it’s no wonder that her team has won this competition in the past. Brianne has a shiny gold medal from the 2014 Olympics and a silver one from 2018.
9. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz loves ski jumping and is ready to make Austria proud of her in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. She already won a silver medal in Pyeongchang, so this time all she needs is that gold! Daniela married her wife in 2013 and has been an avid advocate for LGBTQ+ rights since then.