Even though the world is still waiting for an active athlete to come out of the closet in a major American sport such as football or basketball, it -- and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community -- have been able to support openly gay and lesbian athletes at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The most prominent of them might be Natalie Cook, an Australian beach volleyball player. Cook's duo won the gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, but her tandem lost at the current games to the dominant Americans, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings. Cook is a motivational speaker when she's not on the volleyball court, and she is the first Australian woman to compete in five Olympics in any sport, according to Reuters.
Also openly lesbian, Megan Rapinoe is an important player on the U.S. women's soccer team, which is ranked No. 1 overall in global standings. On Saturday, Rapinoe scored the first goal of the game that saw the Americans eventually beat the Colombians, 3-0.
SB Nation reported Rapinoe also played almost all of the 90 minutes during Team USA's preliminary game against France.
Rapinoe isn't the only prominent lesbian athlete competing for the U.S. Seimone Augustus is one of the best basketballers in the WNBA, leading the Minnesota Lynx to the league title last year while earning recognition as the most valuable player in the championship finals. Rapinoe be a factor at the Olympics, even though she scored just two points and pulled down only four rebounds during the Americans' 81-56 win over the Croatians.
Of course, sexual orientation doesn't really matter in sports. News outlets reporting on the games seldom mention whether the best player in the game is gay or straight. What is changing, though, is the willingness of athletes to open up about their sexuality -- and that could open the floodgates for young, homosexual athletes to consider training to be something that they previously thought was off-limits.