Throughout the world of sports, there are plenty of athletes who are rumored to be gay. And I say rumored, because there aren’t many who have come out of the closet. There have been some over the years who’ve revealed their sexual preferences to be their same gender. But there must be more, there just must be. It doesn’t really matter – well, it must to some ignorant folks still living in the dark ages – but it’s just interesting, just a juicy bit of info to know. Many have decided to keep their sexual orientation under wraps for fear of revolt. Although we’re in the 21st Century, some sporting arenas aren’t very forgiving places for an openly gay athlete. Take soccer for example. Soccer fans don’t exactly have the greatest reputation. At stadiums throughout the world – although mainly in western society, especially in Europe – they taunt players, there are racist, homophobic chants, and truly disgusting language is used. Of course, not all soccer fans are like that, but you get my drift. That’s why there are very few openly gay soccer players. Why would they want to subject themselves to such abuse?
This holds true for many gay athletes around the world. They fear coming out of the closet because of how they’ll be perceived, what people might say. It really is a sad state of affairs. Some though have taken the plunge and are living lives as openly gay athletes. These are 8 athletes who came out and 7 who are rumored to be in the closet.
15 Came Out: Amanda Nunes
Amanda Nunes is arguably the biggest inspiration of any athlete for the LGBTQ+ community. Nunes is the UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion and has been open about her sexuality for most of her career, often crediting her success to her long-term girlfriend, fellow MMA fighter Nina Ansaroff. Nunes has become a dominant force in women's MMA in the past couple of years, as she choked Miesha Tate out to become the new champ, then dominated a returning Ronda Rousey in late 2016. She's still standing proud with her championship. Hopefully as she gains more and more prominence, she can inspire more people in the LGBTQ+ community.
Nunes's girlfriend also sees her as an inspiration, saying; "I’m used to Amanda all the time as the champion being the underdog, so it’s just a little bit more motivation to get the job done. I use it for the energy in the fight then laugh about it after.”
14 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: MANTI TE’O
Manti Te’o is a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints. He’s a solid player without being spectacular, but a lot of people know him solely for a hoax he tried to pull in 2012, one that led people to believe that he was gay. He said that his girlfriend had died in a car accident. No one could find any evidence that this woman actually existed in the first place. The sports blog Deadspin received a tip off, and they began conducting their investigations. They discovered that the girl Manti was talking about didn’t exist, and that he had come out with this hoax to cover up his relationship with a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo. It later came out that NFL teams had been thinking he was gay before the draft.
13 CAME OUT: MICHAEL SAM
Michael Sam is a former American football defensive end. In 2013, he came out of the closet, revealing he was gay and in doing so becoming one of football’s first openly self-acknowledged gay players. It was massive news for the sport and it was hoped it would pave the way for others to be open about their sexual orientation. He came out to his dad first. Then a week later, he came out to his college team at an introduce-yourself session. A lot was made about how his family reacted to the news, but his teammates were only positive, were very supportive. There’s been hate groups and counter-protesters – one thing’s for sure, Michael coming out has elicited a strong reaction. He subsequently got engaged to his boyfriend at the time, but they soon broke things off.
12 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: OVI MUGHELLI
Ovi Mughelli is a former fullback. The guy was a beast on the field, but has currently turned his attention to sportscasting, and lending his voice to radio. In 2010, Ovi was seemingly outed by a jilted ex-lover. This ex-lover was a man. He outed Ovi by posting evidence of their relationship on a website. He had it all, photos, car rental receipts, restaurant receipts, and other bits of memorabilia which he was using to prove their relationships. Apparently, their relationship began in 2001. Ovi had split with his girlfriend, and then had a same-sex relationship with this man.
Then, when his football career began, he ended and tried to bury all evidence of their relationship due to professional reasons, how he thought he’d be perceived in the game.
11 CAME OUT: KELLY GRIFFIN
Kelly Griffin is an Olympic athlete. She plays for the American rugby sevens team, and has achieved a decent amount of success. Her career highlight would probably be captaining her national team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Kelly’s got drive and determination, plenty of tenacity, which are all qualities that have made her a top American athlete. That’s all people care about when it comes to Kelly – her athletic prowess. The fact that she’s a lesbian hasn’t factored into it, and that’s the way it should be. She’s always been very open about being a lesbian. She’s got a wife and family that loves her, and it’s something that’s kept her very grounded. Kelly is a role model to many closeted athletes, someone who’s living life being out of the closet with a smile on her face.
10 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: TROY AIKMAN
Troy Aikman received a tremendous amount of success as a member of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. He had a long career, was in the game for a hell of a long time. It’s unfortunate for Troy, that over the course of a couple of decades, he’s had to deny rumors that he’s gay. He’s continuously denied these rumors, rumors which were brought about by American sports columnist, Skip Bayless. Skip started the rumor in his book when he wrote that Troy might be gay. He’s had to bat off people asking the question ever since. It’s actually made him pretty angry about it: “It was made up and there was nothing accurate about anything that was insinuated.” It’s certainly hard to shake a rumor once it gathers momentum.
9 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: TIM DUNCAN
Tim Duncan is a former pro basketball player. He retired last year after having spent around two decades at the top. The guy was known for his professional straight-laced attitude. He was married and has kids. Just judging by his look, his persona, the majority of people wouldn’t even entertain the fact that he could be gay. That’s until his ex-wife started rumors. She claimed that he was gay and that he’d had a gay relationship when he was in college. She also claimed that the guy he was with actually stayed with them during the initial stages of their marriage. If that was the case, it could hardly have been marital bliss. Duncan has denied these rumors, but it still got people talking, and now there’ll always be that rumor floating around.
8 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: KERRY RHODES
Kerry Rhodes is currently making a go of things in the acting profession. He previously played in the NFL as a free safety. It was during this time that rumors began to surface that Kerry was gay. His former assistant outed him, saying they’d had a relationship. Kerry has always denied that they had a relationship. He’s also denied that he’s gay. But there are plenty of pics out there that most people would look at and think otherwise. For example, he’s been spotted on vacation with men, their arms around each other, and him holding men in his arms. He was just married to Australian actress Nicky Whelan though, but their relationship broke down and they divorced after only six months. Why? She’s refused to say, saying that whatever she says might make things tricky. Take from that what you will. Cue the rumors.
7 CAME OUT: MELISSA TANCREDI
Melissa Tancredi only recently called it quits on her long and illustrious soccer career this year. She played for the Canadian national women’s team, and she had a pretty decent record as a forward. She’s currently earning her corn as a Doctor of Chiropractic, so she certainly hasn’t been sitting around twiddling her thumbs after retiring from the game. Melissa’s someone who’s out and proud. She’s a lesbian, has always been very open about it, and does a whole lot for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. She’s done all of this despite facing backlash from fans in the soccer world. It’s a sorry state of affair that these players still have to face abuse. It hasn’t silenced Melissa or stopped her living her life though.
6 CAME OUT: COLIN JACKSON
Colin Jackson is a former Welsh sprint and hurdling athlete. He enjoyed a stellar career on the track, one which resulted in him being a two-time world champion and two-time Commonwealth champion. He’s still a familiar face in the world of athletics. He works as a sports commentator and is regularly seen doing his thing on TV. Over the years, needless to say viewers have recognized that Colin’s got a flowery nature about him. Despite being in the limelight for so long, he’s only recently come out and revealed that he’s gay. He only came out this year, revealing he was gay in a clip for a Swedish TV show. Despite him being British, news that he was out still reached a lot of people, people who probably already had an inkling that he was gay.
5 CAME OUT: BRITTNEY GRINER
Apparently, if many sources are to be believed, including the players themselves, around 90% of the athletes in the WNBA are lesbian. Straight female basketball players are a minority, and plenty in the game have come out and have been open about their sexuality. Brittney Griner is one of those who’s come out. She revealed all during an interview with Sports Illustrated in 2013. She came out to her family, to those close to her when she was in high school. In 2015, she got married to fellow WNBA player, Glory Johnson. But their relationship was marred by controversy, and they split after just 28 days. Johnson had twins through IVF, and Brittney has moved on and is now dating a guy who used to go to her university.
4 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: AARON RODGERS
When it comes to quarterbacks in the NFL, very few are better than Aaron Rogers. A lot of people would also deem Aaron to be one of the nicest people in the NFL. It’s therefore sad – whether he is gay or not – that he’s had this monkey hanging over his back. He’s had to bat away rumors that he’s gay. People didn’t think he was, because he was in a stable relationship with actress Olivia Munn. But while they were dating, his former assistant and roommate came out and alleged that Aaron was gay. He claimed that they were romantically involved and were in a relationship together when they were roommates. He did reveal this when they’d had a falling out though. It’s either another case of a bitter ex-something trying to be spiteful; or, we never know, he could be the one telling the truth.
3 CAME OUT: JASON COLLINS
In 2014, Jason Collins became the first openly gay NBA player. He came out after the 2012-13 season, then when he next played in 2014, he made history. As a result of him coming out, and what he’s done for LGBT rights, Jason became one of the most influential people, not just in the basketball world, but in the world full stop. He revealed to the world that he was gay in an interview with Sports Illustrated, and asked people to respect his privacy. People did respect his privacy, and plenty came out in support of him. He’s been described as a “game changer” for team sports, and for homosexual people in sports in general. He’s probably the guy who’s created the biggest story by coming out.
2 RUMORED TO BE IN THE CLOSET: ELLEN HOOG
Dutch field hockey player, Ellen Hoog, is regarded to be one of the hottest athletes in the world. She is incredibly gorgeous and has partaken in some stunning shoots, including nude photoshoots. This means that she’s acquired a massive male fanbase, and probably has a large female fanbase too. It’s possible that she appreciates the female fans more than the men, because there have been rumors making that rounds that Ellen Hoog is a lesbian athlete.
There’s nothing massive here, except for the fact that she’s been spotted out and about getting cozy with female companions. She’s also very private when it comes to her personal life, only gives us snippets. So, it’s left to us to make our minds up about Ellen. Once thing’s for sure; the prospect of Ellen being a lesbian is something that a lot of people are bound to find awfully titillating!
1 CAME OUT: ELENA DELLE DONNE
When it comes to lesbian athletes, very few are deemed to be hotter than Elena Delle Donne. She’s another female athlete on this list who plays in the WNBA and who has come out as being lesbian. The WNBA is one place people feel very comfortable being themselves, disclosing their sexual orientation, because they’re not alone and they’re generally accepted.
In 2016, in an interview with Vogue magazine, Elena publicly announced she was a lesbian athlete. She told the world that she was engaged to her partner, and they only recently married, in November 2017. Friends and family knew she was gay long before she publicly announced it. Elena’s someone who likes her private life to remain private, and has urged people to respect that.