From the beginning, I kept hearing the story that I was ‘different’. I couldn’t speak to anyone about it because I didn’t know what my ‘problem’ was. Everything went well, even at school, but there were still moments during which I felt I was at a low point. I started Googling these feelings I was experiencing and landed on the word ‘intersex’.


In the meantime, I am 27 years old and since mid-March I have been telling my loved ones and the outside world that I fall in love with men and not women. Quite a step, which was accompanied by doubts and a little fear. After my first conversations with the team and my loved ones, it turned out that this was unnecessary. For people who experience the same fear as I do, I would like to tell my story.


Over the almost four years that I’ve been out in ultimate there has been a steadily increasing number of out trans and non-binary players, including several that have specifically reached out to me to say how I’ve helped lead the way. This is the power of representation. This is the power of out, vocal, and visible LGBTQ+ athletes. Those who have taken the steps before can help lead the way for those who come after.


I definitely felt that I had to hide parts of myself as a young person. However, college allowed me to spread my wings and be more open. My college volleyball teammates were fantastic and were a huge part of helping me find myself. They are my second family. I have been blessed to coach in some very accepting communities and universities.


My father founded the badminton club named Wit-Wit in Ronse in 1988. Just like him, my brothers were big fans of the sport, so as little sister I couldn’t miss out. I was practically born with a racket in my hand and when I was 14 years old, I made the choice to go to the school for top athletes in Antwerp.


In February, Ethan Akanni became British Universities 60m hurdles champion and then won bronze at nationals. He explains why he’s also proud to be in the new Athletics Pride Network. “Coming out as gay in athletics has boosted my confidence.


As an athlete, you don’t want the attention of it. Athletes feel like they are being defined for being gay, like they’re ‘the gay one’ on the team. At the end of the day it shouldn’t matter, but first of all, there has to be someone on the team who makes it normal. I don’t want to have attention for it, but I feel someone has to start the conversation. I know there’s still homophobia in sports and around hockey clubs. So if you manage to reach some people and get them to understand that it’s not OK to judge people, and no one should feel entitled to judge someone, then you’ve done something right.


I want to show other athletes that your coming out can also be welcomed, even in soccer. And that – once you feel at peace with your sexuality – there is no reason anymore to be closeted.


Coming out hasn’t been an easy process for me, despite the many precedents I had in my club. You would expect that the presence of gay girls would make it easier. But being surrounded by them caused an opposite effect. I hated the idea of ​​confirming a stereotype, so I resisted.


There is next to zero representation of queer athletes in the UK, it can be a hostile environment for queer people, and not as progressive as other nations when it comes to inclusivity. I aim to change that by being visible.


During games, I often have to endure a lot. “Transbitch, cunt …”, I’ve already heard all kinds of insults. One time I was on my way to score a goal, when suddenly the opponent tackled me really hard, without even having the ball. To the referee, I heard them say: “But that’s a man on the field we have to play against!”.

Ashley Lynn

I want to inspire people in more ways than just fitness. To do that, I couldn’t be afraid to be myself, because I know there will always be negative and rude people regardless. I want to show others to also not be afraid to be themselves. True happiness comes from being able to express who you are. To accept yourself and love yourself.


I could pass as straight and being long and lithe I was always told I “looked” like a ballerina. So I fit this aesthetic and the stereotype but it was not who I really was. I always felt like I was impersonating someone instead of being authentically me.


Many British athletes in the spotlight avoid disclosing their personal lives to the public but could make a real difference if they did. Not just for the young athletes but to the parents/grandparents/family/friends etc of a young athlete.

Connor Rose

I try to be more visible about it now than I was then, because I want to encourage a cultural climate where other young trans people can feel enthusiastic about their decisions rather than ashamed or afraid.


Women’s ice hockey is pretty open to gay athletes, but I found that in rowing and track it was slightly harder to come out. Each sport’s mentality is different, and thus causes coming out to be a different experience.


I compete at my best when I have a clear head and zero distractions. If I’ve got the worry of coming out, judgement, people’s opinion of my sexuality, etc on my mind then there’s no chance I’d be able to compete well.


I hope more step out, in more sports. When I was a young athlete, I was so scared. I wished I had someone tell me everything will be ok, that you will learn to be comfortable in your own skin and that you will find friends who love you for you.


As a coach, you often touch your gymnasts to help to execute their exercises. So when I asked if they didn’t think it was weird that I touched them, they told me they had never even thought about this.


What really helped me to take the decision to come out, was the fact that I had already achieved a lot in sports. I became world champion, broke a number of world records and won the Belgian championship several times. So I already had proven myself and was confident about myself.