A record number of openly LGBTQ athletes are set to compete in the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
According to Outsports, there are at least 30 out-and-proud Paralympians participating in the games, which began Tuesday — more than double the number of openly LGBTQ athletes who participated in the last Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
At least eight countries are represented by a member of team LGBTQ. The nations bringing more than one Paralympian to Tokyo are the United States and Great Britain with nine athletes each; Canada with three; and Australia, Germany and Brazil, with two athletes representing each country.
The record number of openly LGBTQ athletes in the Paralympics comes after another record-breaking number of out athletes in the Olympics: at least 185 of them competed in Tokyo.
That was more than three times the number of out Olympians who went to Rio in 2016, and more than all of the out Olympians who participated in all of the previous Summer and Winter Games combined.
On Monday, LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD hosted an Instagram Live interview with sitting volleyball champion Monique Matthews.
The 32-year-old, who won a gold medal in Rio and a silver in London in 2012, said that she hopes to use the visibility of the event to help raise funds for her husband Landon’s gender transition.
“Most people see us as an inspiration because we are disabled, so they usually look past if you’re LGBTQ ... but we want them to see the whole us. Which is why I’m happy that so many [athletes] are out this year compared to last Paralympics,” Matthews said.
“Hopefully it just continues to grow, and they know that they have support and there are people there for them,” she added.
Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s chief communications officer, told the New York Daily News in a statement that the Paralympic Games “by nature are a celebration of inclusion and equality, and the historic number of out LGBTQ athletes participating this year is something to celebrate.”
The increased visibility the games will bring to the athletes will help to fight systemic discrimination and stigma, Ferraro said.
“Every athlete, regardless of ability, gender, race, or sexual orientation, deserves a chance to participate in sports and to represent their communities with pride,” he added.
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, which were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will run through Sept. 5.©2021 New York Daily News. Visit at nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.