9 LGBTQ Olympians to follow during the 2018 Winter Games

Adam Rippon performs during the men's short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, California,on Jan. 4, 2018.
Image: Ben Margot / AP / REX / Shutterstock

It’s Olympics time, and I’m proudly rooting for Team Gay.

Restrain your rage, Facebook bots — I’m fully aware that Team Gay technically doesn’t exist, and I’ll be thrilled if anyone from Team USA wins gold (solely for the Leslie Jones reaction). It’s just that out LGBTQ Olympians are a relatively new phenomenon, with the first out gay Olympian not appearing until 1988

Which is why I encourage you all to root for the following LGBTQ Olympic athletes, even if you’re not queer and find all sports — including incredibly good ice skating-based ones — banal.

It’s a thrilling year to watch. The United States Winter Olympics delegation will have the greatest number of out LGBTQ athletes since it first started competing in 1896. While Pyeongchang isn’t expected to have as many out athletes as Rio in 2016, which had the highest number on record, there are still so many LGBTQ heartthrobs — sorry, um, talented athletes — worth celebrating. Obviously, we’ll all be applauding their bravery and resilience, and not just their pilates abs.

Here are just a few of the best LGBTQ athletes competing for Team USA in the Winter Games this year.

1. Adam Rippon

Werk that blouse, Adam.

Image: marilyn indahl/icon sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images

Adam Rippon will be the first out gay ice skater to represent the United States in the Olympics — a fact that, given everything we’ve stereotyped about ice skating, boggles the mind.

Rippon is a brilliant skater in his own right. He also has the added bonus of loathing historically Vice President Mike Pence’s historically anti-gay stances, having blasted Pence’s selection as the head of U.S. delegation. Expect a lot of satisfying headlines involving “shade.”

2. Cheryl Maas

Viral hero and lesbian snowboarder Cheryl Maas will be representing the Netherlands again in Pyeongchang. In Sochi, during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Maas became famous after she threw a rainbow mitt at cameras in a symbolic protest of Russia’s anti-gay laws. The mitt also included unicorn iconography, one of the most renowned symbols in the LGBTQ emoji community.

3. Brittany Bowe

Brittany Bowe is an American speedskater headed to the Olympics for the second time in a row. She’s currently dating Dutch speed skater Manon Kamminga in the ultimate intercontinental speed skating romance.

4. Gus Kenworthy

Representing Team USA in slopestyle, silver medalist Kenworthy is expected to medal again. He’s racked up a zillion endorsements and won a seal of approval from the ultimate (non-Olympic) judge, Ellen DeGeneres. Kenworthy has called Mike Pence a “bad fit” for team delegation leader, and once appeared naked in an ESPN photo shoot. NBD.

ESPN: Body Issue(s)

A post shared by gus kenworthy (@guskenworthy) on

5. Sarka Pancochova

This will be Pancochova’s fourth time at the Olympics, but her first as an out athlete. The Czech athlete told Outsports that she was “stoked” to come out, but also that being LGBTQ wasn’t a “big deal” nowadays. Tell that to every dorky queer Olympics fan I know.

6.  Daniela Iraschko-Stolz 

#whatshappening #firstvictory #fairyailcomeback #wow Looks like a fairytail

A post shared by Danie Iraschko-Stolz (@danieiraschkostolz) on

Four years ago, Iraschko-Stolz broke multiple records at Sochi when she became one of the first women to medal in ski jumping. Iraschko-Stolkz, who won silver, became the second openly gay athlete to medal at the Sochi Olympics. She’s now expected to win gold in Pyeongchang, both on the course and in our fluttering hearts (sorry).

7. Belle Brockhoff

Despite a terrible knee injury in December, Australian Belle Brockhoff will be returning to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang to compete in snowboard cross. In 2013, Brockhoff came out as gay in advance of the Olympic games to protest Russia’s anti-gay laws. At the time, she said she wanted to “rip on the ass” of Putin, who advanced the controversial legislation.

I’m not entirely sure what ripping on the ass means, but will nonetheless be using the phrase in all of my articles moving forward. Thank you.

8. Ireen Wüst

Ireen Wüst became the youngest Dutch Olympics champion when she won a gold medal in long track speed skating. At Sochi, she took home two gold models and three silver medals. Wüst later became a six-time world champion and is widely considered the country’s most successful athlete to date. She is bisexual and married her partner Letitia de Jong in 2011. Look at this living, breathing Nike ad.

9. Eric Radford

Eric Radford doin’ his thing in Barcelona 2014.

Image: urbanandsport/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This will be Radford’s second Olympics but his first as an openly gay man competing in pair figure skating. Last Olympics, Radford brought home silver in a team event, and he has held the title of Canadian national champion since 2012. Radford is currently engaged to Luis Fenero, a Spanish ice dancer. Here they are looking profoundly cute, which isn’t the point, but come on.

Congratulations to Team LGBTQ, and Team Not-Yet-Out LGBTQ. Wherever you compete, the kind people of the internet, most of whom know nothing about sports, will be rooting for you.

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