The number of publicly out American athletes is not so shocking considering the U.S. has been slow to pass laws that protect LGBTQ Americans.
John Fennell, U.S. luge athlete
An openly gay man has never competed for the U.S. in a Winter Games, and it's been 14 years since one did in a Summer Games, NBC News reported.
John Fennell is one of three publicly out male athletes competing to qualify for the Pyeongchang Games. He is joined by figure skater Adam Rippon and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who came out publicly after winning the silver medal in Sochi in 2014, NBC News reported.
Fennell will find out in December if he makes the U.S. Olympic luge team, and Rippon and Kenworthy will know their 2018 Olympic status by January.
Since 2004, gay men from Great Britain, the Netherlands, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, and Tonga have competed, reported NBC News.
The U.S. is not liberal as it seems when pushing for gay rights. For example, the U.S. enacted legislation in 2015 that allows same-sex couples to marry, but gay marriage has been widely accepted in several other countries — like Netherlands (2000), Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Sweden (2009) and Argentina (2010) — for years now, reported NBC News.
UPDATE FROM OUTSPORTS 14 DECEMBER 2017
Olympian John Fennell’s 2018 hopes just ended in the worst way, and he could use a hug
John Fennell won’t be competing for Team USA at the Winter Olympics in February, after a freak accident in his World Cup qualifying run on Thursday ended his hopes.
The luger, who competed for Canada in the 2014 Olympics, had the fastest start of the day and was in eighth place headed to the final stretch when the runner on his sled snapped and fell off. Incredibly he still finished 21st, but only the top 15 qualify for Friday’s World Cup. That race will determine the U.S. Olympic team.
Fennell was one of five American men in contention for the country’s three Olympic spots, and he looked like a shoe-in for the final until the malfunction.
Fennell quickly took to social media to share his heartbreak:
Heartbroken. Part of my sled broke off during my qualifying run, cutting my Olympic qualification. Seriously crushed to end like this.
I can’t begin to imagine the emotions Fennell is feeling right now. It’s one thing to get beaten in competition, but to lose out on an opportunity because equipment broke is tough to take.
Fennell will forever be an Olympian — This doesn’t take that away from him. And his story and visibility have helped countless youth in sports accept their own selves.Still, if you have a moment to give Fennell an e-hug, you can find him on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.