Did you know that the first out gay athlete nearly competed at the 1908 Olympics?
Niels Bukh was out as gay to his family and, and he attempted to compete for Denmark in 1908 but was dropped from his team for being too “thick-set” compared to his teammates. He also later coached the gold-medal winning gymnastics team for Stockholm 1912.
Outsport notes that Bukh would potentially have been the first out LGBT Olympian, had he been allowed to compete.
The date of almost the first out competitor at the games may come as a surprise to many tuning into Rio 2016, where a record number of out LGBT+ athletes will compete this year.
An out lesbian German Renee Sintenis won a bronze medal in 1928 at the Amsterdam Olympics, and is believed to be the first out Olympic medal winner.
But she wasn’t considered an athlete, as she won it in sculpture. At the time art was part of the Olympic competitive programme.
Otto Peltzer, a fellow German, also made his Olympic debut in Amsterdam, and despite not being out at the time, tragically he was outed and was placed in a Nazi concentration camp after being arrested for homosexuality in 1934.
The camp was liberated by American forces in May 1945.
Find more information at Tony Scupham-Bilton’s blog on Olympic LGBT+ history here.
Fast forward to Rio 2016, this out gay Olympian is literally wearing his message of LGBT+ visibility on his swimming trunks… and he wants you to look.
Restrictions on transgender people taking part in the Olympics are being loosened, allowing them to take part without undergoing gender surgery.