It's the end of June. World Cup fever is still upon us, and Pride Month still lasts for another day. The combination of the two made me think of all the great LGBT athletes whose achievements in their sports advanced the cause of LGBT equality, inside and outside the arena.
Here are ten of the greatest LGBT American athletes, in no particular order, whose out and proud example reminds us what Pride is really all about.
Jason Collins (b. 1978)
Jason Collins is a center for the Brooklyn Nets, and the first out athlete in the NBA. He came out in 2013 in a Sports Illustrated article.
Robbie Rogers (b. 1987)
Rogers is an American Major League Soccer player. He retired after coming out in 2013, but he has since returned to the game.
Greg Louganis (b. 1960)
Louganis had a long, accomplished career as a competitive diver. He won Olympic gold in 1984 and 1988, becoming the only diver to ever sweep the medals in two consecutive games. Louganis came out publicly in the mid-1990s through a best-selling autobiography, television appearances, and even a film based on the book.
Michael Sam (b. 1990)
Sam is a defensive end for the St. Louis Rams and is first openly gay man to be drafted into the NFL. He has yet to play a game for the team but already has a very high profile which he uses to advocate for LGBT equality in sports.
Billie Jean King (b. 1943)
As one of my friends put it when he heard King had been asked to represent the U.S. at the Sochi Games in President Obama's official delegation, "Billie Jean King is American sports royalty." And it's true.
From the beginning of her long career in tennis, she dominated the sport and broke barriers. She relentlessly fought for sexual equality, winning the "Battle of the Sexes" match in 1973 and later founding the Women's Tennis Association and Women's Sports Foundation. King realized she was gay in 1968, entered a relationship in 1971, and was outed in 1981 when the relationship ended and a palimony lawsuit was filed.
The final five out and proud athletes are after the break.