Out British Olympian Tom Bosworth Calls on Closeted Athletes to Emerge

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday July 21, 2021

Openly gay British race walker Tom Bosworth is one of a record number of out athletes from around the world competing in this summer's Tokyo Olympics. But Bosworth, noting that there are 121 known out athletes at the games in which 11,000 will be participating, says that things "don't add up," and is calling on other LGBTQ Olympians to come out, the Daily Mail reported.

Bosworth "publicly disclosed his sexuality in the run-up to Rio 2016, where he finished sixth and then memorably proposed to his partner Harry on the Copacabana beach," the Daily Mail recalled.

"But Bosworth remains one of only three Team GB men across all sports who are publicly out — diver Tom Daley and eventer Carl Hester being the others — and he wishes more athletes felt comfortable to follow suit."

Bosworth noted that, "in countries where a lot of sport is played and publicized, it makes no sense" for there to be so few out LGBTQ athletes.

"I am aware of more athletes who now are living quite openly, but there are still very few at the highest level representing their country," Bosworth went on to say. "It still feels, not a taboo subject, but just hushed away from."

In order for things to change, Bosworth urged, LGBTQ athletes themselves have to step up and break their silence.

"In athletics, we're not household names and we don't get as much publicity, so it is quite easy to go under the radar," Bosworth opined. "But the more people that do come out and just live openly, it would make it so much easier for the more mainstream sports people, or everyday people who enjoy sport but are worried about being outed in their club team."

Plus, he said, it might boost performance in competition.

"If you are fortunate enough to be in a relationship with a supportive family, in a country or place where living openly is pretty safe, I really would recommend [coming out] because it will only benefit you and your mental health," the champion race walker said. "You'll probably perform better as well because you're not worried about it."

Outsports recently reported that the number of openly LGBTQ athletes competing this summer "is greater than the number athletes who have participated in all of the previous Summer Olympic Games combined," and pointed out the difference between now and the 2016 games in Rio, where only 56 out LGBTQ athletes competed.

In addition to Bosworth, the out contenders vying for the gold in Tokyo across a variety of athletics are New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard, a weight lifter who is the first out trans person to compete in the Olympics; American soccer star Megan Rapinoe; Brazilian volleyball player Douglas Souza; Venezuela's triple jump champ Yulimar Rojas; French handball player Alexandra Lacrabère; and Australian skateboarder Poppy Starr Olsen, who will be competing for Australia.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.