Nearly half the members of 'Team LGBT' win medals
by Scott Wittet -
SGN Contributing Writer
Of the 23 openly Lesbian and Gay athletes at the 2012 Olympics - 20 women and three men - 10 of them won a medal, either solo or in a group, reports Gay Star News. This represents an impressive 43% success rate.
If the athletes had competed together as 'Team LGBT,' the seven medals (four gold, one silver, and two bronze) they won would have placed them 31st among nations, tied with Mexico, Ethiopia, and Georgia. They would have beaten the medal count of such nations as Jamaica, Ireland, Argentina, and India. Their four golds would tie them for 17th place with Iran, Jamaica, the Czech Republic, and Korea. (The overall medal count is different from the number of athletes who won medals, because four of the athletes who medaled did so as members of the Dutch women's field hockey team.)
Of course, these competitors are likely only a fraction of the real number of LGBT people who took part in the London Games, which concluded August 12.
Karen Hultzer of South Africa, who competed in women's individual archery, said, 'I am an archer, middle-aged, and a Lesbian. I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee. None of these aspects define who I am - they are simply part of me.
'I am fortunate that my sexual identity is not an issue, and I don't suffer the level of discrimination and violence that black Lesbians in South Africa do. I look forward to the day when this is a nonissue and as relevant as my eye color or favorite sushi.'
Australian diver Matthew Mitcham, one of the world's highest-profile Gay athletes, shared similar sentiments.
'Ideally I would like one day for sexuality to be as unimportant and uninteresting as hair color, or eye color, or even just gender in general,' he said. 'One day it will get to that.'
He added, 'But until it is easy for sports people to come out without fear of persecution or fear of lost sponsorship income and stuff like that, or fear of being comfortable in the team environment, I don't mind attention being brought to my sexuality in the hope it might make other people feel more comfortable.'
IT'S HARDER FOR MEN
The two other out male athletes, Carl Hester and Edward Gal, won gold and bronze respectively in the equestrian team dressage events.
The Dutch field hockey team has largest number of openly Lesbian players, with Marilyn Agliotti, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, Kim Lammers, and Maartje Paumen helping the Netherlands team win gold.
American Seimone Augustus helped the U.S. women's basketball team to its fifth consecutive victory, with an 86-50 win over France.
German Judith Arndt, the first solo Gay athlete to medal, won silver in the cycling time trial.
American soccer midfielder Megan Rapinoe was integral in the U.S. women's team's gold win, finishing with four assists and scoring three goals. Also, U.S. tennis star Lisa Raymond won bronze in the doubles event.
Rapinoe, who came out earlier this year, said it was more difficult for male athletes than for women to be open about their sexuality.
'I think there's a lot of Gay women in sports, and it's widely known in the team, they can live a pretty open lifestyle without being open in the media,' she said. 'But I think for men unfortunately it's not the same climate in the locker room.'
London 2012 had roughly twice as many openly Lesbian and Gay athletes than Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, which had 10 and 11 respectively.
Here is the complete list of Lesbian and Gay medal winners, according to Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com:
GOLD: Seimone Augustus, USA, Basketball. The U.S. women's basketball team was arguably the most dominant team in any sport at these Olympics.
GOLD: Carl Hester, Great Britain, Equestrian. Hester and his two teammates won Great Britain's first-ever team dressage gold. Hester finished fifth overall in the individual competition.
GOLD: Marilyn Agliotti, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, Kim Lammers, and Maartje Paumen, Netherlands, Field Hockey. The Dutch women beat Argentina, 2-0, in the gold medal match. Paumen and Dirkse van den Heuvel scored the team's two goals.
GOLD: Megan Rapinoe, USA, Soccer. The Americans beat Japan, 2-1, in the gold medal match. Rapinoe had a key pass in the game. She also had two big goals in the semifinal match. (Team coach Pia Sundhage is also openly Lesbian.)
SILVER: Judith Arndt, Germany, Cycling. Arndt was the first out athlete to win a medal in London, taking silver in the road race time trial.
BRONZE: Edward Gal, Netherlands, Equestrian. Gal was on the bronze-medal team for Team Dressage; He finished ninth overall in the individual event.
BRONZE: Lisa Raymond, USA, Tennis. She and partner Mike Bryan won the mixed doubles bronze medal.
PUTTING A MYTH TO REST
The 43% of out athletes (10 of 23) who won a medal in these Olympic Games is more than double the percentage of athletes overall who won medals (20%). Team LGBT even outperformed Team USA, 39% of whom took home hardware. Over the years, a whopping 58% of all openly Gay, Lesbian or intersex Olympians have won a medal - an incredible statistic.
We have heard that some athletes don't want to come out because of how it will affect their performance, but that argument just doesn't hold anymore. Rapinoe came out only weeks before the Games - yet she won gold and contributed in a big way to her team's victory. Augustus came out publicly within the last year, and the result was similar. The argument that athletes can't come out for fear of performance on a team has been destroyed by the results of the London Olympics.
SGN Associate Editor Shaun Knittel contributed to this report.
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