National coming out day celebrated in sports

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Erik Drost

Nassib, a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, is the first NFL player in history to come out as gay while an active player.

Oct. 11 marked Coming Out Day, an international awareness day that started in the United States to support the LGBTQ+ community in “coming out.” The day is dedicated, but not limited to, those who are disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity. In the world of  professional sports, there has been an increasing amount of queer athletes who have publicly come out. Their courage, and widespread support received, reflects the growing acceptance of LGBTQ+ people in athletics and greater society. During the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, there were 186 out athletes who competed and represented the U.S.; and there are even more queer professional atheltes who also contributed to their accomplishments in the athletic world. 

In honor of this day, here are four LGBTQ+ professional athletes from all around the world who have made history in their fields: 

Yulimar Rojas 

Rojas is a women’s triple jump Olympic gold medalist and the current triple jump world record holder, with a personal best of 15.67 meters. Rojas is openly lesbian and an LGBTQ+ activist, using her publicity as an athlete to spread visibility to the queer community. Born in Caracas, she has represented team Venezuela in the 2016 Rio Olympics and in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Her extensive list of records includes not only the triple jump but also the 100 meter sprint, 100 meter relay, high jump and long jump.  

Carl Nassib

Nassib, a defensive end for the Las Vegas Raiders, is the first NFL player in history to come out as gay while an active player. Nassib came out on Instagram, explaining in the post that “only until recently, thanks to my family and friends…did it seem possible for me to say publicly and proudly that I’m gay.” He also donated $100,000 to The Trevor Project, a resource for LGBTQ+ youth. Nassib played college football for Pennsylvania State University and has been part of various NFL teams including the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and most recently the Raiders. 

Robyn Lambird 

Lambird is the first out non-binary Paralympic medal winner, and one of the first three out non-binary athletes to compete at the Paralympics. Lambird has cerebral palsy, and is a wheelchair racer who represented team Australia in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Lambird won a bronze medal in the women’s 100 meter T34 sprint, hitting a time of 18.68 seconds. They are also a model, who was featured in a 2016 Target activewear campaign, and uses their athletic prowess, as well as their modeling career, to advocate for LGBTQ+ and disabled people. 

Laurel Hubbard 

Hubbard was the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympic Games. She represented New Zealand in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and though she did not place, she made history for transgender athletes in the games. After an on-and-off history of training and competing before coming out, she first competed as a female weightlifter in the 2017 World Championships and won second place, going on to win first place in the 2019 Pacific Games.