By Dirk Smith, MSc, SDL (He/Him).
The issue in regard to the inclusivity and acceptance of gay and lesbian athletes in sports has been heating up lately as we are seeing more athletes in individual sports taking the steps to come out and compete as openly gay. Major professional sports teams in the NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA and MLS have been showing support by hosting various Pride Night events, some of which include prominent displays of rainbow flags, appearances by LGBTQI sports teams and athlete panels. In some cases, funding and sponsoring LGBTQI organizations and events.
In addition, several sports companies and corporations have been working to promote their various Pride products in an effort to show their willingness to be LGBTQI inclusive. Companies such as Nike and Brooks Running Company have even taken it a step further by investing in LGBTQI sports clubs and events to promote LGBTQI inclusion in sports. So, taking it at face value, it seems that sports have come a long way to show it’s more inclusive and accepting of LGBTQI people. Yet, as of June 2020, there is only one openly gay male athlete in the five US major professional sports leagues and zero in Europe who are still on an active roster. Why is that?
David "Dirk" Smith M.Sc, SDL, CSCS, (He/Him) is a sport psychology expert, strength & conditioning coach, swimming coach, sports diversity leader, published research scientist, teacher, writer, journalist, and athlete. He brings over 12 years of experience, education, and training to empower athletes to build self efficacy, strength, confidence, and express themselves through sport.