LGBTQ+ People, Celebrities, Athletes Who Made History This Year

In February, sprinter Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands became the first athlete in history to win an individual gold medal at five different Olympics and the most decorated openly LGBTQ athlete of all time.

Ireen Wust wears an Olympic gold medal around her neck

Ireen Wüst.

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


Wüst, who is bisexual, has won a total of 12 medals, including six golds, since her first Olympics in 2006. At 35, she is also the oldest sprinter to win a gold medal.

In March, Ariana DeBose became the first openly queer woman of color and the first African-Latina actress to win a SAG Award for acting.

Ariana DeBose kisses the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 2022 SAG Awards

Ariana DeBose.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images


DeBose won the supporting actress award for her role as Anita in “West Side Story.”

“It’s telling that doors are opening,” DeBose told reporters backstage in the virtual SAG media room after her win, according to NBC News. “It’s an honor for an Afro-Latina queer women of color and a dancer and a singer and an actor.”

Leah Thomas won the 500-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Championships in March, making her the first transgender athlete to win an NCAA title.

Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, swims for the University of Pennsylvania in an Ivy League swim meet against Harvard University in Cambridge

Leah Thomas.

Getty/Joseph Prezioso


Thomas competed for the men’s swim team at the University of Pennsylvania for three years before transitioning, undergoing hormone therapy, and then switching to compete for the women’s team in 2020. She has since broken several US women’s national swimming records, including the record 200m and 500m freestyle at the Zippy Invitational Event in Akron, Ohio in December, Insider’s Meredith Cash and Will Martin reported.

DeBose made history again as the first openly queer actor of color and the first Afro-Latina actress to win an Academy Award.

Ariana DeBose poses with her Oscar at the 2022 Academy Awards

Ariana DeBose.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


DeBose won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Anita in “West Side Story.”

“Imagine this little girl in the backseat of a white Ford Focus. When you look into her eyes, you see an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina, who has found her strength in life through art. And that’s what I believe we” I’m here for to celebrate,” DeBose said in her acceptance speech. “So to anyone who has ever questioned your identity ever, ever, ever, or find yourself living in the gray areas, I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us.”

In May, Karine Jean-Pierre became the first Black and openly LGBTQ+ person and immigrant to serve as White House press secretary.

Karin Jean Pierre

Karin Jean Pierre.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik


Before taking questions from reporters on her first day, Jean-Pierre acknowledged the historic nature of her position and credited “generations of barrier-breakers” she said paved the way for her, Insider’s Nicole Gaudiano and Oma Seddiq reported.

“Obviously I’m very aware that my presence on this podium represents some firsts. I’m a black, gay, immigrant woman, the first of three to hold this position,” she said. “If there hadn’t been generations of barrier-breakers before me, I wouldn’t be here. But I benefit from their sacrifices. I learned from their excellence and I’m forever grateful.”

Billy Eichner is the first openly gay man to write and star in a major studio film with his groundbreaking romantic comedy, “Bros.”

Billy Eichner at his premiere

Billy Eichner.

Kristina Bumphrey/Variety via Getty Images


“Bros” is the first major studio rom-com about gay men and also the first major studio film to feature an all-LGBTQ cast playing heterosexual roles, according to IMDB.

“To this day, I’m still waiting for someone in the studio to call me and say, ‘You know, now that we think about it, you’ve gone too far.’ But it never happened,” Eichner told Variety. “There’s a part of me that realized some of it would be impressive to some people in the audience, and I loved that too. I was like, ‘Great! Let’s surprise people. Let’s shock them’. Sacha Baron Cohen doesn’t worry about that, why should I?’

“Bros” opened in theaters on September 30.

Two openly LGBTQ+ candidates are running against each other in a congressional race for the first time in US history.

A split image of Robert Zimmerman and George Santos

Robert Zimmerman (left) and George Santos.

Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images ; George Santos for Congress


Democrat Robert Zimmerman and Republican George Santos, both openly gay, are facing off in November in a bid to represent New York’s 3rd congressional district. The very nature of the election is already historic, and whoever wins will become the first openly LGBTQ+ person to represent the New York district, The Hill reported.

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