Being queer as an Asian person usually means struggling with your identity and facing backlash from society. But these athletes did not let adversity stop them. Asian queer sportspersons are few and hence the overall queer representation in sports is lacking. But these six athletes are openly queer and publicly advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. They are representing the queer Asian community and helping normalising queerness in sports and in society.
1. Dutee Chand
Dutee Chand is an Indian professional sprinter and the national champion in the women’s 100 metres event. Chand won gold in the 100 metre race at the 2019 Summer Universiade in Napoli. At the 2016 Rio Olympics she became the third Indian woman to participate for the Women’s 100 metres. Chand won two silver medals in the 2018 Asian Games for Women’s 100 metre and Women’s 200 metre sprint.
In 2019, Chand publicly stated that she was in a same-sex relationship. She is the first Indian athlete to openly come out as queer. Chand spoke about being in a same-sex relationship after the decriminalisation of gay sex. She faced severe backlash from residents of her home. In an interview with NDTV, Dutee Chand spoke about her humble background and her experience as a sportswoman.
2. Fumie Suguri
Fumie Suguri is a Japanese former competitive figure skater who began skating when she was just five-years-old. She is a five-time Japanese national champion, the 2003 Grand Prix Final champion, won the Four Continents championship three times, and is a three-time World medalist. Suguri announced her competitive retirement in the November of 2014. She came out as bisexual that same month.
3. Parinya Charoenphol
Parinya Charoenphol is a Thai boxer, Muay Thai champion, actor, and model. She is a transgender woman that was profiled in several magazines and has appeared in Thai music videos. When she was 16 years old the media became intrigued by her victory in Bangkok’s Lumpini Boxing Stadium. In 1999, she announced her retirement from kickboxing but she made her comeback as a boxer in 2006. She opened a boxing camp, Parinya Muay Thai in 2010.
6 Asian Queer Sportspersons We Must Know About – Across sport, members of the LGBTQ+ community are breaking new ground and pushing boundaries
4. Amazin LeThi
Amazin LeThi is a Vietnamese former bodybuilder and is also the first Vietnamese internationally published health and fitness author. As a young child she was often bullied because of her ethnicity and sexuality. Due to this she went into bodybuilding at the age of 6. She overcame barriers such as homelessness and thoughts of suicide and is now LGBTQ+ and human rights activist. Amazin helped organise the first ‘Spirit Day’ collaboration with GLAAD during the Obama administration.
5. Schuyler Bailar
Schuyler Bailar is the first openly transgender National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I swimmer. Bailar is of Korean descent and began swimming at the tender age of 1. He is an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion and has received several accolades for the same.
- In 2016 Bailar was awarded the SMYAL Community Advocate Award for being a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
- In 2018, Bailar was named in the Gold House A100 list of the most influential Asian Americans.
- In 2019 Bailar was awarded the NBIC Best-of-the Best Visibility for his role as an out and vocal transgender athlete.
6. Tara Moore
Tara Moore is a British tennis player that was born in Hong Kong. Moore’s first professional tennis match was in 2006. Since then she has won nine singles and twelve doubles titles on the ITF Circuit. She is openly a lesbian and is married to fellow professional tennis player Emina Bektas.
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