When the Olympic cauldron is lit Friday, July 27, to kick off the Summer Olympics in London, the LGBT community will be represented on the fields of playwith more than double the number who participated in the 2004 Games in Athens or the 2008 Games in Beijing.
There are at least 20 openly gay athletes, plus one prominent U.S. coach and U.S. diving team mentor Greg Louganis, among the near 12,000 athletes competing in the quadrennial event, according to Outsports.com .
The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) lists the tally at 25, though the FGG lists includes Louganis, U.S. Women's Soccer coach Pia Sundhage, and two paralympic athletes.
There were 11 out athletes in Athens, 10 in Beijing.
Megan Rapinoe, a soccer player who played for the Chicago Red Stars in 2009-2010, came out in early-July and she'll be wearing red, white and blue in the Games. Her coach, Sundhage, a lesbian was profiled in the Windy City Times in 2011. Sundhage came out in 2010 on Swedish TV. Hope Powell, coach of the British women's soccer team, also is a lesbian.
Rapinoe told Out Magazine in her coming-out interview that she's in a long-term relationship with an Australian soccer player.
The out U.S. Olympians also include tennis player Lisa Raymond and basketball star Seimone Augustus.
Raymond has won six Grand Slam titles in doubles and five in mixed doubles, and is currently a part of the top-ranked pair (with Liezel Huber) in the world, according to the Women's Tennis Association.
Augustus has gone from WNBA Rookie of the Year (in 2006) to WNBA Champion (2011) with the Minnesota Lynx, even being named the 2011 Finals MVP. The Advocate reported earlier this year that Augustus is engaged to marry her girlfriend, LaTaya Varner.
Matthew Mitcham, a gold medal winner at the 2008 Olympics, is back in the pool.
"The number of publicly out Olympians this year is about double what it was just four years ago. That's indicative of the changing face of sports where sexual orientation is becoming just another part of athletes," said Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com . "But we can't get too excited, because it's still represents just 0.2 percent of the athletes. And if Grindr is crashing as soon as Olympic teams arrive in London, we know there are more. It's still very difficult to be openly gay in many countries represented at the Olympic Games, and there are still laws banning our legal relationships in almost every country at the Games. While some might like to pass this off as a problem for Africa and South America, European athletes and coaches have expressed homophobic sentiments recently.
"So while 20 out Olympians is great, I'd like to see a lot more of them come out publicly. The impact they can have as out athletes, with the whole world watching for the next two weeks, can be powerful."
The Outsports' out Olympian list also includes Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian), Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling), Imke Duplitzer (Germany, fencing), Marilyn Agliotti (Netherlands, field hockey), Carl Hester (Britain, equestrian), Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (Netherlands, field hockey), Mayssa Pessoa (Brazil, handball), Rikke Skov (Denmark, handball), Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey), Natalie Cook (Australia, beach volleyball), Alexandra Lacrabère (France, handball), Jessica Landstrom (Sweden, soccer), Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden, soccer), Lisa Dahlkvist (Sweden, soccer) and Carole PÃ©on (France, triathlon) and Jessica Harrison (France, triathlon).
FGG also includes Claire Harvey (UK, paralympic volleyball) and Lee Pearson (UK, paralympic equestrian).