Tokyo Olympics: Why LGBTQ People Love the Olympics

I was having dinner recently with a friend who has seen a lot more episodes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” than NFL games. But there is one sporting event that he follows closely: the Olympic Games.

When I relayed this anecdote to Outsports co-founders Cyd Zeigler and Jim Buzinski, they weren’t surprised. Without revealing too many state secrets, Outsports traffic typically explodes around the Olympics, and this year is no different. Despite all the controversy surrounding this year’s Games, LGBTQ people still love them.


Like any millennial journalist worthy of their Starbucks mobile order, I asked the question on Twitter. I received many thoughtful and poignant responses, including personal stories. Although each answer is unique, there were some common themes in the answers.

I have done my best to represent them on this list. Here are five reasons LGBTQ people love the Olympics (with the understanding that there are plenty more):


This is the big one. There are at least 168 athletes competing at the Olympics, triple the number in Rio.

Meanwhile, there has been one openly gay player active in NFL history, and he just came out last month.

There is a dearth of athletes in elite level men’s team sports, which dominate mainstream American culture.

This is not the case at the Olympics, where Tom Daley wins gold, and the United States Women’s Basketball Team won 50 consecutive games.

Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe claim more championships than any other power sport couple.

For the first time, transgender and non-binary Olympians are also taking part in the competition. And their representation comes at a pivotal moment. Lawmakers across the country are trying to ban transgender children from playing sports, sometimes successfully.

Transgender and non-binary children are shamefully told every day that they have no place in athletics. And yet they can see Laurel Hubbard competing against the world’s best weightlifters, Alana Smith shredding him on their skateboard and Team Canada’s Quinn making Olympic history.

It is important.

In a recent conversation with Outsports, Canadian speed skater Anastasia Buscis, who came out publicly as gay ahead of the Sochi 2014 Olympics, said the number of LGBTQ athletes would have had a profound impact on her growth.

“When I realized my sexual orientation, I felt so lonely because I didn’t have anyone, honestly, to admire or to identify with,” she said. “To see this exponential number, my hair stands on end on my arm. “

Young LGBTQ children who watch the Tokyo Games have many role models to choose from. That’s for sure.

The women!

With all of this representation in mind, it’s important to note that LGBTQ women outnumber LGBTQ men 8 to 1 at the Olympics. Women are leading this revolutionary wave.

They get the kind of coverage they deserve during those two weeks.

“Accessible women’s sports. It’s not often that there is actual airtime for women’s events, ”said a respondent.

“I can easily see women’s sports” added another.

Our women are already showing their power in Tokyo. Six have won medals so far in Tokyo (judo star Amandine Buchard; USA softball Ally Carda, Amanda Chidester, Haylie McCleney; Team Canada’s Larissa Franklin and Joey Lye in softball).

Overall, LGBTQ Olympians have racked up eight medals.

Here in the United States, we are also fortunate to see the excellence of the National Women’s Football and Basketball teams, both led by LGBTQ stars. There are four athletes on the soccer team and five on the basketball team.

Unsurprisingly, the two clubs are still vying for gold. As Megan Rapinoe said, you can’t win a championship without gays.

Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart are two of the stars of the American team.
Photo by Ned Dishman / NBAE via Getty Images


As mentioned, the Olympics are full of obscure games and events, such as archery, taekwondo, canoeing, and dressage.

As a result, most viewers are not very familiar with what they are watching. There is no intimidating barrier to entry.

“Maybe there’s something about not having to be a true fan of all sports, ”said cultural writer Louis Staples. “Most people kind of learn as they go. “

LGBTQ people can also identify with being outside the mainstream. Every four years, these people, many of whom are not professional athletes, are celebrated for their unique talents.

LGBTQ people can relate to their stories.

“There are so many weird and wonderful sports that I’ve never even heard of that have time to shine at the Olympics compared to traditional and more famous sports,” Staples said. “I think it speaks to the experience of LGBTQ + people who maybe weren’t into traditional things, including more traditional sports, or wanted to do things differently, so they like to see the wide variety of skills. and celebrated talents. “

For others, watching dive and swim is more comfortable than soccer or baseball (and no, I’m not just talking about Speedos).

“The reason I love the Olympics is that they’re not hypermasculine and don’t throw masculinity in your face,” said Larry nearby. “There is polite competition between the best in the world. “


Olympic athletes train excruciatingly long hours and meet a lot of resistance on their way to the Games. In other words, they are resilient.

Just like LGBTQ people.

“For many LGBTQ people, we see our story in LGBTQ athletes at the Olympics,” said Amazin LêThị, a gay Vietnamese athlete.

On that note, the Olympics are also full of breathtaking triumphs. Athletes defy the odds and achieve life-changing victories all the time.

While most people like an outsider, the concept is especially personal for LGBTQ people.

“LGBTQ have always been the underdogs of society,” said one respondent. “We love to see the underdog win! “

The traps of thirst

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the # 1 reason I love the Olympics. I am the writer, after all, and I present to you …

Tom Daley in trunk

Olympic Games - Previews - Day -1

Photo by Clive Rose / Getty Images

Pita Taufatofua with body oil

Opening Ceremony - Olympic Games: Day 0

Photo by Hannah McKay – Pool / Getty Images

And my new favorite … Turkish gymnast Ibrahim Çolak


Turkish Ibrahim Colak reacts after taking part in the rings test.
Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP via Getty Images

I rest my case.

Naomi C. Amerson