The U.S. women's soccer team defeated Japan 2-1 to capture the gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Londonand no doubt the LGBT community was thrilled, flashing a toothy smile of pride.
After all, the United States had an open lesbian on the field and another leading the troops from the bench.
Megan Rapinoewho came out in early July, less than a month before the Games kicked offscored three goals in the team's six Olympic games, highlighted by a pair in United States' 4-3 thrilling semifinal win over Canada.
The U.S. team is coached by lesbian Pia Sundhage, who said the Olympic experience was "unbelievable. There are no words. I can't even try to do it in [my native language] Swedish. This is just unbelievable." In comments provided by U.S. Soccer, Sundhage added, "Winning a gold [medal] at Wembley [Stadium] is phenomenal."
Rapinoe played for the Chicago Red Stars in 2009-2010.
"It was crazy," Rapinoe said of the medal ceremony, in quotes provided by U.S. Soccer. "We came back out and everybody was still here; I don't think a soul had left the building. It was electric in here all night really."
On her emotions after the gold-medal game, Rapinoe said, "I was just super happy, and then I looked up and saw my family and I just lost it. I'm sure I'll lose it again when I see them."
Midfielder Carli Lloyd scored both goals for the United States against Japan.
"I think it just took everyone," Rapinoe said about the team effort. "Carli (Lloyd) not even starting and comes back with a killer performance; [goalie] Hope [Solo] was on fire [against Japan] and I think [Shannon] Boxx probably [was] our player of the game. It was such a team effort."
The U.S. women's basketball team members also returned home with gold around their necks. USA crushed France 86-50 in the championship game, earning the country's fifth straight Olympic gold medal in the sport, a feat never before accomplished in any women's traditional team sport. The United States has now compiled a 41-game Olympic winning streak that began with the 1992 bronze medal game.
Seimone Augustus, who plays for the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA, is the only open lesbian on the team. She scored eight points in the 15 minutes of playing time she saw in the gold medal gameher second goal medal.
"It's great, just to be in the position to win a medal is awesome and the women that I got a chance to experience this with and win a gold medal is even better," Augustus said in statements released by USA Basketball.
"I had to hold tears back, but I am probably going to break down later. Rethinking the last two or three years for myself and being back and win a gold medal … honestly, I had this as my screen saver a year ago before they even announced the team. So, it's like a dream come through."
The dream of Olympic gold, or even silver and bronze, was shining brightly in England for 16 days for more than 10,000 athletes, ultimately ending with the Closing Ceremony Aug. 12.
The United States won the overall medal tally, besting China, Russia, Great Britain, Germany and Japan.
The Olympic scene now shifts to 2014, when the Winter Games will be held in Sochi, Russia, while the next Summer Games will be held in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
But oh the memories of London, from Michael Phelps' record-setting swimming show to Usain Bolt's speed demon ways on the track, from golden gymnastics glory by a youngster named Gabby to yet another men's basketball gold medal for the U.S.
The Olympic cauldron has been extinguished on the 2012 Games, but those shining momentsand even those not-so-shiningwill live on.
The London Games featured 23 out athletesabout 0.16 percent of the total number of athletes, according to Pink Newsincluding 2008 gold medal-winning diver Matthew Mitcham of Australia. However, Mitcham did not win any medal this time after failing to qualify for the finals in 10-meter platform.
Mitcham, on Twitter, wrote: "Ah nuts, missed the finals by #theskinofabeespenis. But I could not have done more. And I'll always be a Lympic Chamion =) thx 4 ur support."
"These were the gayest Olympics ever, and that can be a great source of pride for the community," said Cyd Zeigler of Outsports.com . "We had the most publicly out gay Olympians ever, at 23. And those Olympians did a fantastic job, with 10 of them winning medals. That's a higher percentage of athletes winning medals than even Team USA. Whether it was Megan Rapinoe dominating the Canadians in the semifinals of women's soccer, or the lesbians of Dutch field hockey scoring both of their team's goals to win gold, their performances made us proud.
"At Outsports, we also found that people were talking about the issue a lot more. People were asking the question more: Is that athlete gay? A dozen years ago, the idea of gay Olympians simply wasn't in the conscience of the general public. Today, it is. And the media played with that, offering many articles showcasing out gay athletes, Pride House, and the underbelly of homophobia in Olympic sports."
The 23 out Olympians in London are the most ever for a Summer Olympics. There were 10 at the Beijing 2008 Games and 11 at Athens in 2004. To date, there have been 104 publicly gay athletes competing at Summer Olympics, according to Outsports.com . The United States was the most represented in the list of 104, with 27, and soccer had the highest number of gay athletes.
The Outsports list states that 52 percent of the LGBT athletes in the Summer Olympics have won a medal.
The earliest known gay Olympian was German middle distance runner Otto Peltzer, who competed in 1928 and 1932, according to Outsports.
Golden moment: The Netherlands' women's field hockey team features four out lesbians: Marilyn Agliotti, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, Kim Lammers and Maartje Paumen. According to SBNation, "Tied 0-0 in the second half of the gold medal match against Argentina, it was the out lesbian Dutch players who came to the rescue. First Carlien Dirske van den Huevel opened up the scoring in the 44th minute. Then team captain Maartje Paumen scored less than 10 minutes later to ice the game."
More gold: British equestrian Carl Hester won gold in team dressage. The event also featured openly gay rider Edward Gal of the Netherlands, who took the bronze in team dressage.
American honoree: Lisa Raymond won the bronze medal with partner Mike Bryan in mixed-doubles tennis. Raymond and Liezel Huber lost in the bronze-medal match.
Coming out: South African archer Karen Hultzer came out to the media during the Games. "I am an archer, middle-aged and a lesbian," the 46-year-old athlete told the media in London. "I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee. None of these aspects define who I am; they are simply part of me."
Silver shine: Judith Arndt (Germany) rode away with a silver medal Aug. 1 in the women's individual time trials in cycling, finishing about 15 seconds behind U.S. entrant Kristin Armstrong, who captured the gold. Arndt also competed in two other racing events, finishing eighth in women's team pursuit and 37th in the women's road race. "I'm really happy with the silver medal," Arndt told CyclingNews.com . "Of course my goal was to win gold, but if you would have asked me yesterday I would have named Kristin [Armstrong] as favorite for today. So I'm not surprised." Arndt has participated in every Summer Olympics since 1996.
No day at the beach: Natalie Cook (Australia) was eliminated in the preliminary round of women's beach volleyball. Cook and her volleyball partner, Tamsin Hinchley, lost all three of their Olympic matches. Cook, 37, announced her retirement from the sport after the London Games, according to Wild World of Sports. "The mind, and the body, needs a rest. Not a rest that I'm coming back from, but a rest forever," Cook said. London was Cook's fifth Olympics. She is a two-time medal winner, having won bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and gold at the 2000 Sydney Games.
Three on the team: The Swedish women's soccer team lost 2-1 to France in the quarterfinals, ending the golden dreams of Lisa Dahlkvist, Jessica Landstom and Hedvig Lindahl. Dahlkvist had one goal in her four Olympic matches. Dahlkvist is the daughter of ex-professional soccer player Sven Dahlkvist, who played 39 times for Sweden.
En garde: Imke Duplitzer (Germany) lost in the round of 32 in the women's individual epee (fencing), but her German squad ultimately captured fifth place in the women's team epee.
Times three: Jessica Harrison (France) finished ninth overall in the women's triathlon (2:01:22), less than 90 seconds behind the first-place competitor. Carole Peon (France) finished 29th overall, with a time of 2:03:58.
Handball hotties: France lost to Montenegro 23-22 in the quarterfinals of women's handball, ending the Olympic dream of Alexandra Lacrabere. That also was the round in which Brazil dropped a tournament-ending match against Norway 21-19, despite the efforts of Mayssa Pessoa. Denmark struggled in the Olympics, ending with a 1-4 record on the team that featured Rikke Skov.
Biker chic: After more than three hours cycling, Germany's Ina Teutenberg was 27 seconds out of medal contention in the women's road race. She finished fourth.
Closing: The Closing Ceremony to the 2012 Olympic Games featured "A Symphony of British Music," with the Who, the Spice Girls, the Pet Shop Boys, Taio Cruz and more. Brian May of Queen performed, as did George Michael, who performed his hit "Freedom."
Excited medal winner: After winning the bronze medal, the four-person U.S. rowing team of Scott Gault, Charles Cole, Henrik Rummel and Glenn Ochal posed for a photo that, well, seemed to impressor at least draw questions and snickersfrom the gay community. Rummel appears to be, well, very excited about the medaland his spandex shorts don't appear to hide much. The image quickly went viral, but the rower ultimately answered the most-asked question, as he told Gawker when asked if he was, indeed, excited: "Nope! If I did have one you can bet I would've tried harder to cover it up with the flowers. Those spandex are pretty tight-fitting and whatever position it happens to be captured in, it's staying that way."
Is he gay? The Internet was buzzing during the London Olympics withwhat else?speculation. Several high-profile men competing in London were tagged with "Is he gay?" rumors, particularly British diver Tom Daley. From policymic.com: "And while English diver Tom Daley hasn't declared he is gay or straight, fans and foes alike seem to assume he is gay. Recently, a 28-year-old Twitter poster was arrested for sending malicious tweets about the diver, some of which read, "If there is any consolation for finishing fourth at least Daley and Waterfiled can go and bum each other #teamHIV." There is even a meme, "Olympics or gay porn?" that put Daley front and center.
Pink News, which claims to be Europe's largest gay-news service, reported that
Daniel Thomas, 28, a semi-professional soccer midfielder with Port Talbot FC denied he had sent the homophobic tweet. According to a club statement at the time, he had been the victim of a "prank." Both the club and Thomas apologized "unreservedly" for the message. Still, Thomas was suspended by the club pending an internal investigation.
Pink News reported that the police issued a statement saying, "South Wales Police has arrested a 28-year-old man from the Port Talbot area in connection with offensive comments made on the social networking site Twitter. The man was interviewed at Neath police station and has been released on police bail pending further enquiries." Club chairman Andrew Edwards confirmed with the BBC it was Thomas.
The Greg Louganis effect: Ji Wallace, the only Australian to have won a medal in gymnastics (silver on the trampoline in Sydney in 2000), revealed he is HIV-positive.
An interview featuring Greg Louganis, the four-time U.S. Olympic diving gold medal winner who also is HIV-positive, inspired Wallace.
"I was in London at the Games and watched Piers Morgan interviewing [Louganis] and it was just such a normal interview and so positive," Wallace told The Age newspaper in Sydney after flying home from his role as an ambassador for the Federation of Gay Games.
"I felt like he had come a long way because when Greg came out it was a shock-horror story, quite negative, and it was really nice for him to sit there openly [this week] and talk about it. That night I had trouble sleeping so I wrote to Piers Morgan and said, 'Thanks for treating him well ... it's a big issue and it always will be but you didn't sensationalize anything.' I wanted to say thanks and that I too was an Olympian living with HIV."
The letterwhich Wallace also sent to the Sydney Star Observer, an LGBT weekly newspaperwent viral.
"It's not a big deal to me. Everybody I needed to tell was very supportive of me, but it is a big deal to those people who find themselves discriminated against or bullied because of it," Wallace told The Age. "If one or two people or thousands of people get encouragement and courage to chase their dreams or live their lives honestly, if what I wrote makes a difference, then I have done the right thing."
Wallace was openly, but not publicly, gay in Sydney, according to The Age. He made his sexuality known publicly four years later when a friend convinced him gay athletes should talk more about their sexuality.
Coming out: South African archer Karen Hultzer revealed in London that she is a lesbian in hopes that, by coming out, it will help people struggling with their sexuality and add to the fight against homophobia in sports. She waited until after her event to go public about her sexual orientation. Hultzer finished 46th out of 64 in women's archery.
"I hope this gives people some courage. The more we come out and talk about it, the more people should realize that being gay is a non-issue and we can progress," Hultzer, 46, told Reuters.
Gay rights: Gay-rights supporters have called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to uphold the Olympic charter on equality and take a firm stand against homophobia, much as the Olympic movement has tackled racism and sexism. Emy Ritt, co-president of the Federation of Gay Games (FGG), said the campaign had notched a small victory by successfully lobbying London organizers to sanction the first official gay and lesbian pin featuring a rainbow, according to Reuters. "In the professional sports world we are seeing more and more athletes coming out because the younger generation sees this as far less of a stigma," Ritt told Reuters. "But we need to make sure that organizations like the IOC encourage equal rights for gay, lesbian and transgender athletes so they feel safe coming out."