16 Inspirational Voices for LGBTQ Equality in 2016: Record Number of Out Olympians

As 2016 comes to a close, there is no doubt that this year was difficult for many in the LGBTQ and allied community. After a year of such celebration and momentous progress in 2015, 2016 was a shocking wake-up call to many about the realities that LGBTQ people face. From the rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation to the horrific shooting at Pulse, from the incidents of anti-transgender violence to the election of a presidential ticket that threatened to undermine equality and justice, we know that our job is more important now than ever before.

However, through these difficult times, we witnessed countless moments of inspiration. Throughout the year, time and time again, we saw people stand up and do what was right. Whether they were celebrities, politicians, a friend or just an acquaintance, we saw people stand up for equality and inspire us all. Their stories made us cry, gave us hope and reminded us that love will conquer hate.

Michael Phelps wasn’t the only athlete to make history at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. A record number of out athletes-more than 40 openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Olympians-participated in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, marking a huge step forward for the LGBTQ community.

These stellar athletes made incredible athletic achievements on the field, but there were also several off-the-field stories that warmed our hearts.

In addition to these openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Olympians, Chris Mosier, a transgender duathlete, was chosen for Team USA for the 2016 World Championship. While he can compete at the World Championships, duathlon is not an Olympic sport. Mosier was featured in a Nike ad that aired on NBC during the Olympics.

LGBTQ visibility in the sports world is on the rise, due in large part due to the brave athletes who have spoken out about who they are, setting an example for LGBTQ youth and people around the globe. While many athletes continue to face discrimination in their sports, those who live their truths and live openly and authentically continually inspire us. Especially while playing on such an intense and global stage, these athletes pave the way for others, both on and off the field of competition.

Follow along with HRC’s blog in the coming days as we recognize the people who inspired us and gave us hope, courage and strength in 2016.