Showing posts with label Gay in Sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay in Sports. Show all posts

March 24, 2020

OutSports Reports 10X National Champion Denis Finnegan Comes Out Gay

Denis Finnegan looks to the future as an open book, with hope and ready to help any other LGBTQ athletes looking to contribute their voice.
Denis Finnegan is a national champion. And he’s been a national champion 10 times over. That’s some real dominance. Few people in the world, in any sport, can claim that many titles over a decade.

Finnegan also happens to be gay. That’s not something lost on him. While it’s been just a small part of who he is as a person, and an even smaller part as an athlete, in recent years he has drifted more and more to coming out publicly not for himself, but to help other LGBTQ people in sports — and in particular track and field — who may feel alone. 

“For younger people it will hopefully give them more confidence in what they’re doing,” Finnegan told me on my Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast. “There are still people who are scared or unsure of what’s happening, so I hope just telling my story might help one person notice there’s more acceptance out there.”

In the podcast interview, Finnegan talks about why he drifted toward track and field and away from team sports like basketball and Gaelic football, which he played as a youth.

“Athletics was always a place that, because it was quite mixed, it was a place I could have gotten away from everything,” he said.

It’s a theme we’ve heard from many gay men, who drifted away from the locker-room machismo environments of team sports and embraced individual sports like track and field.

 "I think those sports, because they were a team sport with males, there were times when it wasn’t comfortable,” Finnegan said. “Athletics was always my favorite sport, it was always the sport that was the one that was the most open. I’d be training with girls, I’d be training with guys, and I think that did help a bit. I was never worried about any kind of comments on the track. But when I was going for, say, football, it was more of an issue.”

For Finnegan, sports was a part of his identity, and finding a way to continue in sports beyond his university days was important to him. 
“I loved sport and my whole family was sporty. I’d want to be doing the sports, but there was a part of them I wasn’t enjoying at all.”

The interview with Finnegan was raw and real, discussing the impact of being publicly “closeted” on his personal life, as well as other aspects of his public and private journey.

When I asked Finnegan if there was anything else he wanted to be sure to add, he pointed to a speech by Theodore Roosevelt that has resonated with him over the years. 

I paste it hear because it reflects with so much of what Finnegan told me about being one person in a sport trying to earn accolades and make change: That speaks to the man that Finnegan is, as well as the hopes and dreams of a national champion to contribute to an international conversation about the acceptance of LGBTQ people.  

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
You can listen to the entire interview with Finnegan on the player above.
By By 
Originally posted on


January 2, 2020

Gus Kenworthy Olympic Ski Star Who Kisses Boy Friend In Front of The World in 1992

Kenworthy attends FX's "American Horror Story" 100th episode celebration.
Freestyle skiing became a regular Olympic discipline in 1992, 63 years after the first Academy Awards took place, 23 years before same-sex marriage was legalized in all American states, and 22 years before it was legalized in the United Kingdom. 
What's the correlation between the three? It's Gus Kenworthy. 
The ski star was born in Chelmsford, northeast of London, to a British mother and an American father before moving to Telluride, Colorado, at age  
    "We fell in love with skiing together," Kenworthy told CNN Sport's, Alex Thomas. "She learned when she was 40 and I was 3. I just want to do it for my mum. She's been my No. 1 fan and No. 1 supporter."
    The love for skiing that blossomed in Colorado took him to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where he won the silver medal for Team USA.
    Pyeongchang followed in 2018. And, at 28 years of age, Kenworthy has decided that Beijing 2022 will be his final Olympics. This time, he will compete under the British flag to honor his mother.
    "She's waved the American flag and supported me, even though it's not her country, and I very much want to wave the British flag in support of her."
    And after Beijing, it will be time to move onto new pastures. 
    "I made the realization at the last Games that I am more than skiing, not because I'm an actor," Kenworthy explained. 
    "But I am also a son, I'm a boyfriend, I'm an uncle, I'm a friend. There's so many things that are more important than just your performance at any given moment in a sport."
    Silver medalist Kenworthy (left),  gold medalist Joss Christensen (center) and bronze medalist Nicholas Goepper (right) on the podium after the freestyle skiing men's slopestyle finals.
     Broadening horizons
     Kenworthy took time off skiing to make his first foray into acting. 
    He played Chet Clancy this year on "American Horror Story" and says acting isn't too different from being in sports.
    "He's (Chet) very much an athlete and that's one of the things I would describe myself as," he said. 
    "When I go into an audition, even if I feel confident and I feel good, and I feel like I've rehearsed the script a bunch and I know the sides and I know my lines, then you suddenly get in there and you're flooded with nerves.
    "And that's the only thing that gives me that same feeling as skiing. That's the only other thing I found in my life that I get that same sensation."
    But when asked whether he would prefer winning an Oscar or an Olympic gold medal, the decision is easy for Kenworthy.
    "I would probably take the Oscar. I think that would open a lot more doors for my future and for what I want to continue doing after skiing. I would love and Olympic gold medal, and that's what I'm shooting for. But at the end of the day, I've already got silver and I feel pretty accomplished."
    Kenworthy attends FX's "American Horror Story" 100th episode celebration.
     More than sport
    Kenworthy has developed into somewhat of a triple-threat. He started as an athlete, he's made his debut as an actor, and he has become an activist for the LGBT community. 
    And his proudest achievement to date combined a little bit of everything and came when he was at the top of the freestyle skiing food chain. He had just won his fifth straight title as the world's best freestyle skier. 
    In a 2015 ESPN interview, Kenworthy became the first Olympic skier to publicly come out as gay.
    He has since become a figurehead for the LGBT community and, in 2017, received a Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights advocacy group.
    "The legacy that I want to leave behind, that I'm really proud of, is being an athlete and taking that step to stand up and being supported in that," he said. "I hope that any athletes in the closet would see my story and Robbie Rodgers, Tom Daly and Adam Rippon, all these other out athletes, and hopefully that will help them take that step because I do think it's really important."
    Silver medalist Kenworthy (left),  gold medalist Joss Christensen (center) and bronze medalist Nicholas Goepper (right) on the podium after the freestyle skiing men's slopestyle finals.
    Silver medalist Kenworthy (left), gold medalist Joss Christensen (center) and bronze medalist Nicholas Goepper (right) on the podium after the freestyle skiing men's slopestyle finals. 
    A kiss between Kenworthy and his then-boyfriend Matthew Wilkas during the 2018 Winter Olympics was captured by TV cameras and used to signify changing attitudes. 
    After the controversy surrounding Russia's anti-gay laws before the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) introduced an anti-discrimination clause to its host city contract.
    Yet Kenworthy has concerns over gay rights in China, where the next Winter Olympics will take place. 
    "I would say I'm frustrated by gay rights in China. But I am excited to go there and compete and be out and proud and hopefully, that will have a positive effect. I think visibility is just really important."
    Kenworthy competes in the men's ski modified superpipe final in Colorado.

    December 19, 2019

    These Young Well Developed Athletes Will Tell You, There is Power in Coming Out


    I am quite a late bloomer in rowing. I only started when I was 28. Growing up, I used to play basketball and tennis. 
    Although I loved both sports, I had to give them up to go to college.
    It didn’t take long before I got addicted to the sport. Because we train five times a week, your fellow rowers quickly become your second family. Training so much and so hard creates a special bond between everybody. ​
    Besides being a competitive rower in Belgium, I also coach young rowers. Teaching them to row is the main job, but equally important to me is making sure that they feel at ease and that everybody can be his or her true self. 
    Because we see each other all the time, I want the club to be a safe place of acceptance and tolerance.
    That is why I started a social media campaign — #samesportdifferentsexuality — to call out homophobia in sports and encourage tolerance and acceptance. 
    I came out as gay when I was 23, after five years of hiding it. Looking back I wish I didn’t wait this long and I certainly don’t wish the stress I felt upon anyone else. By launching #samesportdifferentsexuality I hope some people will find the support they need and can stop hiding who they really are. ​
    It was very important to me to include straight athletes in this project. If you are looking for acceptance in sports, I’m convinced that both straight and queer athletes have to work together. ​
    With the reach of social media, taking a picture with my fellow rowers can have a positive impact on closeted athletes. 
    I remember being nervous the day before the launch. I was telling a friend I hoped I could reach a few hundred people. It turned out I didn’t need to worry. The campaign became national news here in Belgium. The big newspapers and radio stations called me non-stop and we were even asked to do a TV talk show that night. After a few days, more than 200,000 people had seen our pictures. I can’t explain how grateful I am for all the support. A huge thank you to Outsports for helping me to share this message in other countries. ​
    Simon Haerinck, second from right, with his rowing teammates.
     Louis Kerckhof
     I received hundreds of messages. It took me a while to read them all. A few of them really touched me.
     After the launch of our campaign, a 21-year-old closeted volleyball player, Eduard from Belgium. send me a message that he has always been afraid of his coach, who he thought was homophobic.
    Eduard never had the courage to come out to his team. I really connected with him and I told him about the idea behind the campaign. 
    Inspired by our talk, he told his coach the next day that he was gay. Although he was super nervous and afraid, he told me, he found the courage to do so. The outcome was very positive for him. His coach didn’t mind and told him he considered him one of the guys.
    Eduard texted me the next day that a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders and that he couldn’t thank me enough. Just for this reason, I am happy we did this campaign and hope we can inspire more people.
    The attention it got proved to me that a lot of people agree that homophobia in sports is still a big issue. However, I feel we are going in the right direction and received a lot of messages from straight people showing their love and understanding. ​
    I still have some other things planned for this campaign, so stay tuned. Let’s keep going.​​
    Simon Haerinck, 34, is a rower and rowing coach for the 10 -14-year-old at the Royal Rowing Club in Ghent Belgium. He also manages a sports hotel in Ghent. Sport is a big part of his life so that is why his social media campaign is so important to him. He can be reached by email or Instagram (@simonhaerinck)
    Story editor: Jim Buzinski

    December 7, 2019

    Premiership Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys Comes Out Gay

                         Image result for Craig Maxwell Keys

    Professional rugby has continually embraced modern technology - so it's no surprise that Premiership referee Craig Maxwell-Keys took a similar approach towards coming out as gay.
    Maxwell-Keys, who has also taken charge of European games, eventually decided the time was right to reveal his sexuality to colleagues at Twickenham as well as his local club, Lichfield RFC.
    "You could say it's modern-day," said the 29-year-old, speaking to the BBC's LGBT Sports Podcast. "I sent a WhatsApp message at 6am before I was due to go on a family holiday to Greece.
    "I then turned the phone off and didn't turn it on again for a good couple of hours. Then after a few too many wines in Greece, I read the messages back.
    "It shouldn't have been a surprise, but all the messages were really positive and supportive.
    "When I got a contract offer from Twickenham, I hadn't fully accepted my sexuality myself. It was another two years working in rugby that opened my eyes to the fact that everyone is really supportive.
    "It's just an extension of my family and my support network, and the guys at Twickenham made it really simple for me to come out. The limiting factor was me and whether I was ready." Gunning overcomes prejudice to chase the Olympic dream 

    Maxwell-Keys drifted towards becoming a match official by chance - he broke his wrist playing for Lichfield as a youngster and while recovering from the injury, he enrolled on a refereeing course.

    Well and truly bitten by the refereeing bug, he took charge at the Staffordshire Under-12 Festival at the age of 17 and worked his way up the ladder to become a full-time referee in 2014.
    Of course, Maxwell-Keys is not the only openly gay rugby referee - Nigel Owens, who came out in 2007, is one of the sport's highest-profile officials and has featured at three World Cups.
    "I can't sing as well as Nigel can, I certainly can't dance as well as Nigel can and I'm definitely not as funny as Nigel is, so there are a lot of differences!" says Maxwell-Keys.
    "When I did come out to our boss at Twickenham, he put me in touch with Nigel and we had a chat, which was really helpful.
    "Nigel had some good words of advice and support, which I was really grateful for at the time and still am.
    "They made it really clear that you could be a part of pro sport, that you can be true to who you are and still have that life in sport."

    As well as joining the Premiership's 16-man pool of referees, Maxwell-Keys has also run the line at the Six Nations and took charge of his first international - Romania against the USA - last season.
    Now based in Cheltenham, he aims to continue moving up the referees' pecking order - and his experiences since coming out have indicated that sexuality will be no barrier to that.
    "From everyone who has taken an interest, they've said "cheers for sharing it" and on we go, and I think that's the liberating thing - rugby is more interested in how good you are," said Maxwell-Keys.
    "If you're good enough, you'll get to whatever level you aspire to. That's what matters and not necessarily who you love or your gender or anything like that, it's purely at the top end about 'are you good enough'.
    "It's a very competitive group of referees at Twickenham, vying for a limited pool of games. From my perspective, I'm refereeing in Europe, and the priority is to get some higher profile European Cup games.
    "From there, the world is my oyster, as they say."

    November 26, 2019

    Coming Out Gay Made Me a Better Athlete "Michael Gunning"

                                     Image result for swimmer michael gunning
    Michael Gunning

    I started swimming at a very early age and if I’m totally honest, I hated it at first. Neither of my parents is strong swimmers, so they put me into lessons. But it wasn’t long until I began to love the water and was always playing and messing around in it when I should have been paying attention to the instructor.

     During my school years though, people always used to say to me ‘black people don’t swim’. Yet here I was, a black man who loved swimming. I quite liked the fact that I was different and was doing something that many people didn’t understand or really even think possible. Competitive swimming and sport have been a huge part of my life for the past 15 years, but through that time I’ve struggled and worried about how my sexuality would be perceived when I started representing my country (Team GB until 2016 and since then, Jamaica) on the world stage. Because of this, I suppressed my feelings for a long time and wasn’t open about who I was. 

    It wasn’t until I decided to take time away from the sport last summer to really find myself and go through my own journey in addressing, accepting and being open about my sexuality. I ended up taking part in the E! Reality series The Bi Life and it was a transformative experience. 

    Although it was daunting to come out on television, I have no regrets. Being in that villa of like-minded people who understood what it’s like to feel different was exactly what I needed.  I didn’t really grow up with many LGBTQ role models – especially in sport – so there wasn’t much out there to help me learn about who I was and feel OK in my own skin. Particularly as a black gay sportsman, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me being open about who they are and who they love. 

    Seeing yourself reflected in someone else and their experience can be such a powerful, personal affirmation, but for so long I was lacking that. Still, I also never imagined that my ‘coming out’ story on the show would have sparked so many discussions within the LGBTQ sporting community. Many of these discussions are still ongoing because the sport is still a place where many LGBTQ people don’t feel welcome, or they actually feel excluded. 

                        Image result for swimmer michael gunning

    Stonewall research found that four in 10 LGBTQ people (43 percent) think public sporting events aren’t welcoming for them. Some may find this shocking, some may think it’s not surprising at all, but I think it shows why it’s so important we keep conversations going about sexuality, gender identity, and sport.  When I came out, everyone reacted better than I could have ever imagined. This past year, I’ve traveled to Australia, Switzerland, South Korea, and Puerto Rico for international swimming competitions and I’ve had nothing but love and support for my coming out story. 

    While that doesn’t mean that’s going to be the case for everyone, I’ve learned that it’s OK to come out when you’re ready. MORE: LIFESTYLE Debt Diaries: I racked up £13k of credit card debt from shopping The best eco-friendly decorations for a sustainable Christmas Stylist shares simple trick to create perfect winged eyeliner in seconds It’s always a personal decision and no one else knows what you’re going through, so someone should never feel pressured to come out. 

    Challenging anti-LGBTQ attitudes in sport can’t just rest on the shoulders of LGBTQ athletes – that’s a burden we all need to bear and play a part in tackling. What I will say is that all my friends and family have seen a massive change in my personality because I’m finally owning who I am. I swim at my best when I’m happy, and coming from a Caribbean heritage I’ve been given a bigger voice and platform to be a role model. 

    I’m now a Stonewall Sports Champion for athletes still competing in their sport. I became a better athlete after I came out because I was no longer worrying about hiding a part of myself from everyone around me. My hope, dream, and ambition now are to carry on fighting to make sport a more inclusive place for athletes, so everyone can be their authentic selves. Sport and so many LGBTQ people will be all the better for it.

    October 8, 2019

    The fist Hockey Player Co Come Out Gay in Denmark, 27 Yr Old Jon Lee-Olsen

    Image result for jon Lee Olsen
    Jon Lee-Olsen

    The 27-year-old becomes the first professional male ice hockey player to come out as gay in Denmark and joins Lars Peter Karlsson of Sweden and Brendan Burke of Canada as the third openly gay professional ice hockey player in the world, per TV 2.
    “There’s a risk that some people might shout and heckle me while I’m playing matches. It’s something I have to be ready for and be mature about. But I feel that I’m ready to show that you can be gay and play ice hockey,” said Lee-Olsen. “It took longer than I expected, but now I’m ready to stand up for myself and others.” Note: He spoke in Danish, which we translated to English for Outsports readers. 
    While the NHL has been doing more in recent years to show support of its fans in the LGBTQ community, there’s never been an out man in the NHL. Still, Danish NHL player Lars Eller of the Washington Capitals has shown full support on Lee-Olsen’s coming out, hoping that his actions will inspire others in their sport to come out too. “It’s special. You might say that about any sport, but ice hockey has a very macho culture, so I think it must not have been an easy decision for him. It’s very brave.”
    Unlike women’s pro hockey which is home to a number of out players and wide LGBTQ acceptance within the NWHL, Lee-Olsen’s coming out represents a meaningful shift for men’s hockey and inspiring courage in gay boys and men aspiring to be in the NHL one day.
    You can watch the full interview (in Danish) with Lee-Olsen on TV 2 PLAY.

    September 26, 2019

    Former Patriots Ryan O'Callahan on Being Gay: "I was scared to death"

    BOSTON (CBS) By Liam Martin
    – Former Patriots lineman Ryan O’Callaghan spent his entire career hiding his sexuality from his teammates, his friends, and his family. He is now sharing that battle in his new book, “My Life On The Line.”
    He was a star offensive lineman on the best football team on earth, at the top of his game, and in the depths of despair.
    “I was convinced family would never love me, friends would never love me, as an out gay man,” O’Callaghan said in an interview with WBZ-TV’s Liam Martin. “I was scared to death. It scared me to death. I instantly went into the closet.”
    O’Callaghan is back in Boston to promote that new book, and he says he hopes his story will encourage other gay athletes to stick with it. 

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