The Beijing Olympics Is Breaking Records For LGBTQ+ Athletes In Winter Sports

Timothy Leduc and Ashley Cain-Gribble winning their second national title
(Image credit: NBC Sports)

There are more LGBTQ+ characters in the media than ever before (just look at the Batgirl movie, for example). In the case of the 2022 Winter Olympics, life is beginning to imitate art. The event, which is having a major impact on programming, is hosting a record-breaking number of openly LGBTQ+ athletes, and some are poised to bring home the gold medal. 

In a report compiled by Forbes, it was revealed that a record number of LGBTQ+ athletes are participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. There are 35 contestants who have been confirmed to be openly queer, although the outlet has stated that there could be more. There were only 18 LGBTQ+ athletes present at the 2018 winter games in South Korea, and seven at the 2014 ceremony in Russia, making the 2022 competition a revolutionary occurrence. 

The Summer Olympics have traditionally been more successful in the inclusion of LGBTQ+ athletes, (186 queer individuals competed in the 2020 ceremony in Tokyo), so these new contestants mark a positive step forward for the Winter Games. The first openly nonbinary and transgender competitors were present in Tokyo, and their trailblazing participation may have encouraged more queer athletes to vie for a spot in the Winter Olympics. 

The new guard of LGBTQ+ athletes hail from 15 different countries and will compete in categories like figure skating, snowboarding, skiing and ice hockey. After Canadian soccer player Quinn made history as one of the first nonbinary athletes to play in any Olympic event, the country will be sending the most openly LGBTQ+ contestants to the 2022 Winter Games out of every participating nation. The majority of queer players are on the women’s ice hockey team, but the LGBTQ+ community will also be represented in figure skating and the biathlon.  

After Quinn played in the Summer Games, Timothy DeLuc will follow in their footsteps to become the first nonbinary athlete to compete in the Winter Games. Representing the United States, DeLuc will appear in the figure skating competition alongside their partner Ashley Cain-Gribble. Other stand-outs include the bisexual speedskater Ireen Wüst, who is not only queer, but also the most decorated athlete to be competing in the current games. 

While the Winter Olympics may be breaking boundaries, some viewers have expressed concerns about the state of LGBTQ+ relations in China. The country currently does not allow same-sex marriage, and many forms of media must censor queer content. Luckily, this has not stopped openly queer athletes from participating in the games. In addition, the Olympics do not allow discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity, making it possible for LGBTQ+ athletes to continue to go for the gold. 

The 2022 Winter Olympic Games has now commenced. Airing and streaming schedules can vary, so be sure to check out how you can watch the 2022 Olympics. In addition to airing on regular cable, the ceremony will be available on Peacock Premium. You can also check out more TV premiere dates to begin planning your 2022 viewing experience.  

Rachel Romean

Actor, singer, and occasional dancer. Likes: fashion, books, old buildings. Dislikes: cilantro, the NJ Turnpike, sneaker wedges.