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A record number of LGBTQ Paralympians are competing in the Tokyo 2020 Games

At least 30 publicly out athletes representing 12 sports and 8 countries are competing, according to Outsports.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; Image: Team GB’s Lee Pearson, shot by Francisco Gomez de Villaboa for Attitude

A record number of LGBTQ athletes will be competing in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, more than double the number who took part in Rio in 2016, according to Outsports.

At least 30 publicly out athletes representing 12 sports and 8 countries are competing, beating the 12 who competed in Rio.

Great Britain and the United States currently stand as the competiting nations with the most recorded out athletes, with nine each, while wheelchair basketball is the sport in which the highest number of out LGBTQ athletes will compete, making up 40% of the entire total.

Meanwhile, Canada boasts three out Paralympians, while Australia, Germany, and Brazil each have two.

It’s a good year for breaking records when it comes to LGBTQ representation in Olympic and Paralympic sport, as a record number of LGBTQ athletes took part in the summer games, which finished earlier this month. 

“A diverse trailblazing group of people”

Team GB’s dressage rider and 11-time gold Paralympic medallist, Sir Lee Pearson (who was also Britain’s first openly gay Paralympic champion) is the only male on the list so far, with at least three non-binary athletes; Australian track and field athletes Robyn Lambird and Maz Strong and the American rower Laura Goodkind.

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A post shared by Sir Lee Pearson CBE (@sirleepearson)

Team USA sitting volleyball player Monique Matthews told Outsports: “I love seeing our out Paralympians highlighted because it shows that while we still have a ways to go, as a society, we have become more accepting therefore people are able to be their authentic selves and feel safe.

“It gives me great pride to be part of such a diverse trailblazing group of people,” adds Matthew, whose husband, Landon, is transitioning and hoping for financial assistance for his journey.

At the Rio Games in 2016 Outsports counted at least 12 openly LGBTQ athletes

The Paralympic Games run from 24 August – 5 September 2021 with live coverage on Channel 4.

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