While it might be too soon to declare this the year of the queer athlete, there have been a good number of folks in the sports world who have chosen to publicly come out and live their truths in 2021, and it’s still only September!
From an NFL defensive lineman to an BMX rider to a handful of pro wrestlers, here's a running list of the athletes who have come out this year (so far). And we can't wait to keep adding to this out-and-proud list!
In a September interview with USA Today, 25-year-old minor league baseball player became the only active baseball professional to be out as gay!
A member of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes team as well as an accomplished country music singer-songwriter, Ruby told USA Today, "I kept thinking about the little 14-year-old me, who was scared because I'm a baseball player who loved country music. Those are worlds where people like me are told they can’t belong. I’m not a hot-shot prospect. But today, you can’t find a single active baseball player who is out publicly. I want to help create a world where future generations of baseball players don’t have to sacrifice authenticity or who they really are to play the game they love."
National Hockey League prospect Luke Prokop came out as gay in July, the first active player in the league to come out. Selected in the third round of the 2020 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators, the big defender has a good shot of making the regular-season roster.
"I am proud to publicly tell everyone that I am gay," he wrote in a heartfelt message on social media. "It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I could not be happier with my decision to come out. From a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams."
The 28-year-old National Football League player and Raiders defensive lineman made history when he came out as gay on Instagram during Pride Month, becoming the first veteran NFL player to come out as gay while signed to a regular-season contract.
"What’s up people," Nassib said in his Instagram post. "I’m at my house in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay."
He continued: "I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but finally feel comfortable getting it off my chest. I really have the best life, the best family, friends and job a guy can ask for."
Professional Irish rugby player Jack Dunne, 22, revealed he was bisexual during Pride month. The 22-year-old second-row player for Leinster Rugby (who went to university on scholarships for both rugby and physics) said he has been out privately to friends and teammates since his late teens, but decided to come out publicly as well.
WWE NXT professional wrestler Toni Storm came out as bisexual in June when she took over WWE NXT’s Instagram stories.
"I’m bi and it feels good to say it," Storm revealed. "It’s something I’ve been really comfortable with for a long time. I just never expressed it."
The Bachelor star and former football player (who was signed by the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent and was on the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles) came out as gay in April, saying he had finally come to terms with his sexuality and the "next step in all of this was sort of letting people know."
He wanted everyone to know he was "still the same Colton everybody met on TV" and is "proud to be gay."
American middle-distance runner Nikki Hiltz announced they identify as trans and nonbinary back in April. Hiltz had previously come out as gay while in college and has been a visible and affirming presence for gay athletes in the past.
"Hi, I’m Nikki and I’m transgender," Hiltz wrote in the post. "That means I don’t identify with the gender I was assigned at birth."
Hilitz, 26, now uses she/they personal pronouns and politely explained and defined their gender identity for followers.
Corey Walsh, the 27-year-old pro BMX rider and Vans spokesperson, said he isn’t normally the type of person to "let people in" on his personal life, but felt it was important to come out as gay in a March Instagram post because "there are a lot of people still struggling with the same situations" and he "just wanted to let people know that they are not alone."
Champion long track speedskater Conor McDermott-Mostowy never hid being gay from his family, friends, and fellow athletes, but he also wasn’t one to decorate his locker with rainbow Pride flags either. He initially feared negative stereotypes about gay male athletes but threw those concerns aside after his two-title performance at the U.S. National Championships in Utah in March.
Retired World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Gabbi Tuft publicly came out as trans in a powerful February post to Instagram, saying that "I am no longer afraid and I am no longer fearful. I can now say with confidence, that I love myself for WHO I am."
Swiss professional basketball player Marco Lehmann decided to retire from living a double life before he retired from basketball, coming out publicly as gay.
"My name is Marco Lehmann," he wrote in a January article for FIBA. "I’m a 27-year-old professional 3x3 basketball player and I decided I would not wait until I retire to announce that I’m gay."
Professional wrestler Chris Lewis — better known as Mr. Grim and the Hitman for Hire in the ring — rang in the new year in January by announcing on Twitter he is pansexual.
"For years, I've struggled with my identity, too worried about how others would feel or think about me," Lewis wrote. "I've finally gained the courage to openly express that I'm pansexual."