From amateurs to professionals to Olympians, 2014 was the year of the gay athlete.

OutSports editor Cyd Zeigler argues that Sports Illustrated should name the gay athlete, as a collective group, its “sportsman of the year” because “No one — and by that I mean no person or collection of people — affected sports in 2014 the way these LGBT people in sports dominated headlines and changed conversations from January to December. A year ago children were growing up in a world where you couldn’t be a gay umpire, NFL player or Major League Soccer champion. These brave men and women changed all of that in one defining year.”

Indeed, in the last year we had the first openly gay college football player and the first openly gay professional football player. The first openly gay male basketball player played his first game while WNBA star Brittney Griner won a title and became the first LGBT athlete endorsed by Nike. Soccer player Robbie Rogers, who retired in 2013 in part to avoid “the circus” after coming out, returned to the pitch on a winning team. Countless others, including not just athletes, but coaches, executives and even an umpire, came out of the shadows.

And let’s not forget the Winter Olympics, which were held in a country, Russia, that oppresses gay speech and marginalizes gay people. How fitting then that Dutch speedskater Irene Wust, one of several out women to excel at the games, won more medals than anyone.

For each of the 100 plus top performers, there are legion of others whose names go unrecorded, but are in their own way just as important.

This truly was an extraordinary year for gay and lesbian athletes, and, as Zeigler points out, it’s not yet over.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig