If all of the publicly out LGBTQ athletes at the Olympics represented a country under a single rainbow flag they’d be coming in 14th in the world for their medal count.
British diver Tom Daley, who is competing in the games for the fourth time, is the only gold medalist in the group. French judoka Amandine Buchard won a silver medal in just 16 seconds, while three members of the USA women’s softball team — Ally Carda, Amanda Chidester, Haylie McCleney — also nabbed second place.
Meanwhile, Larissa Franklin and Joey Lye on the Canadian women’s softball team took home bronze. And, British equestrian Carl Hester earned a bronze to add to his gold and silver medals collection from previous Olympics.
Following his first gold medal win on Monday, Daley offered an inspiring message for LGBTQ youth.
“I hope that any young LGBT person out there can see that no matter how alone you feel right now, you are not alone and that you can achieve anything and there is a whole lot of your chosen family out here ready to support you,” Daley said.
“I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion,” he added.
The jump in openly out gay, transgender and non-binary athletes this year underscores changing attitudes around the world and within the Olympic Games. The Associated Press reports as recently as the 2012 Olympics there had been just two dozen publicly out competitors, among more than 10,000.
“It’s about time that everyone was able to be who they are and celebrated for it,” U.S. skateboarder Alexis Sablone, told the AP.
She added: “What I hope that means is that even outside of sports, kids are raised not just under the assumption that they are heterosexual.”
This post was first published on NPR.