Free shipping over $99 | Interest Free *no credit check* financing is available!

The History Of Gay Olympians Is Unsurprisingly Dark

by matt baume July 30, 2016


The Olympics have been around for a century plus some change, and it’s probably not a huge shock that for most of that time, LGBTQ athletes haven’t had a great time.

There’s a fantastic writeup on Outsports by Olympic historian Tony Sculpham-Bilton, detailing some of the terrible trials that the world put queer athletes through for decades. They’re generally pretty grim, and often involve the Nazis.

For example, there’s Niels Bukh, a Danish gymnast whom Hitler recruited. He was secretly gay when he participated in the Stockholm Olympics in 1912, but outed by a former partner after he started working for the Nazis.

Related: Sia Lends Her Voice To Unusually Gritty — Though Sexy — Olympics Ad

Prior to the rise of Hitler, Germany was a fairly accepting place for LGBTQs, and sent gay Olympian Otto Pelzer to compete in 1928. Rather than working for the Nazis, he was arrested for homosexuality and imprisoned at a concentration camp for years. Following the war, he fled to India, coached there for several years, then died of a heart attack in 1970.

Then there was Helen Stephens, an American who ran an incredibly fast 100 meter dash. Her story is particularly strange: after she won, accusations flew that she was actually a man. Someone from the Olympics actually checked her and confirmed that she was a woman. But one of her accusers, Poland’s Stanislawa Walasiewicz, later turned out to be intersex.

Related: Tom Daley Models Nearly Nonexistent New Speedo For The Olympics

The first openly gay athlete wouldn’t compete until 1988. Equestrian Robert Dover from America came out during the Olympics in Seoul. His partner, Robert Ross, is an equestrian as well.

And that’s only scratching the surface of the often-strange, usually-dark history of queer people in the Olympics. Read up on our history, and remember to thank your lucky stars that you’re living at a time when athletes can be openly out proud.

matt baume
matt baume


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Think

Calum McSwiggan Pleads Not Guilty To Lying About Hate Crime Attack, “Devastated” Nobody Believes Him

by Graham Gremore September 27, 2016

It’s been a rough few months for YouTube star Calum McSwiggan. In June, the 26-year-old internet celebrity claimed he was the victim of a violent antigay hate crime outside the Abbey in West Hollywood that allegedly left him “with three broken teeth and six stitches in my forehead.” “Last night was the worst night of my life [...]

Continue Reading →

WATCH: Katy Perry Votes Naked, Gets Arrested

by matt baume September 27, 2016

Mastermind Katy Perry’s plot has been successful! Yesterday she tweeted that she was going to use her body as click bait to change the world. And today she has made good on that threat, with a nude video about voting. Will it actually change the world? That remains to be seen. (Spoiler: no.) “This year, you can look [...]

Continue Reading →

Whole Foods Supervisor Who Said “Only Gay People Wear Crocs” Faces Discrimination Suit

by Derek de Koff September 27, 2016

According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, a Whole Foods employee in Boulder, Colorado feels she faced ongoing discrimination due to her sexual orientation — all at the hands of a supervisor who made fun of her clothing, her Crocs in particular. “She told me that I looked ‘unfuckable,'” Jennifer Johnston tells CBS4. “And that only [...]

Continue Reading →