In alphabetical order
This category is for sportspersons that are either LGBT+ or have proven to be strong advocates of the LGBT+ community in sport.
A former England star and Arsenal legend, Scott also played in the Olympics in 2012 and is without question a role model for women and young girls. She made history as the first female pundit on Sky Sports Super Sunday programming and made waves as the first woman to commentate for the BBC for a men’s World Cup. In 2022, Scott was praised for wearing the pro-LGBT+ OneLove armband, which had been banned by Fifa, and has been very vocal in her support of the LGBT+ community. She came out, without fanfare, in her autobiography, How (Not) To Be Strong.
Lioness star Mead won the coveted Golden Boot for most goals scored in the Euro 2022 tournament as she helped propel the England team to victory. The LGBT+ heroine, who is in a relationship with fellow Arsenal star Vivianne Miedema, was also named player of the tournament and is an inspiration on and off the pitch. She has opened up about being gay to help others and spoken out against injustice, while also supporting a number of charitable causes.
A left-back for Manchester City and England, Stokes was a key part of the Euro 2022 winning squad. She also captained the Great Britain squad in Tokyo two years earlier as one of the Team GB athletes, is a Women’s Super League winner, a three-time FA Cup champion and a wonderful example of LGBT+ representation in women’s professional football.
Former rugby sevens player Ellia Green came out as a trans man last year. The Australian retired from the sport in 2021 and has suffered with serious mental health issues since then but made the announcement in a pre-recorded video shown at a summit on ending homophobia and transphobia in sport. The Olympic gold medallist said: “I promised myself that when my rugby career ended, I would continue to live the rest of my life in the identity and the body that I know I am meant to be in.”
Transgender cyclist Emily Bridges found herself in the middle of an international storm last year as she was blocked from competing for Wales in the Commonwealth Games. Bridges was stopped by cycling’s world governing body from riding in the British National Omnium Championships at the 11th hour amid threats of a boycott from other riders, which subsequently meant she could not feature for her country. This was at a time when Bridges was not breaking any rules. She has been, and continues to be, a force for transgender representation in sport.
Daniels is the UK’s first male professional footballer to come out publicly since the much-missed player Justin Fashanu in 1990, and he is still the only openly gay male professional footballer currently active in Britain’s top divisions. Last year, the Blackpool forward shared his story and expressed his desire to live life authentically. He was met with an outpouring of support and it is hoped the 18-year-old’s decision will help combat homophobia in football and sport in years to come.
What a year the former Man City defender has had in 2022: not only was she an integral part of the Lionesses squad that were successful at the Euros, but the former England star was crowned Queen of the I’m a Celebrity jungle – in doing so becoming the first openly LGBT+ woman to win the show. The history maker, who recently retired from playing, has spoken candidly about her experiences of being gay and has also been very vocal in her support for the community while outlining the difficulties that closeted men face in the game.
A World, European and two-time Paralympic rowing champion, Rowles is a star of the sport. Her remarkable journey began in 2012 when she was just 13; contracting transverse myelitis, she became paralysed from the waist down. After months of rehabilitation, she found a new talent in wheelchair track racing and represented Team GB on the international stage before switching to rowing, where she has gone from strength to strength. She continues to build her legacy both on and off the water through her work as an inclusion consultant and public figure within the disability & LGBT+ community. Lauren’s goal is to challenge perceptions of disability, gender and sexuality whilst ensuring that there is greater inclusion for the next generation in sport. She is in a relationship with Jude Hamer, a wheelchair basketball player who has represented Great Britain at two Para Olympics.
Lionesses captain and Arsenal star Leah Williamson is one of the finest ball-playing defenders in world football, lifting the trophy after England’s Euro 2022 glory last year. The player has spoken honestly about her sexuality, her journey and stood up against issues surrounding LGBT+ inclusion in the game, particularly at the Qatar World Cup.
Jamaican record holder Michael Gunning announced his retirement from competitive swimming last year as arguably the fastest male swimmer in the country’s history. An openly gay athlete, Gunning switched from GB to compete internationally despite rampant homophobia and anti-gay laws in the country. Throughout his career, Gunning made huge efforts to raise LGBT+ visibility around the world in sports. Following his retirement, he says wants to promote the normalisation of gay athletes, particularly Black gay athletes. “I will continue talking and I would like to go back to Jamaica. I’ll make a bigger impact if I face it there.”