Swimmer Ian Thorpe, seen here in 2004 with one of his five Olympic gold medals, told an Australian news outlet that he is gay in an interview that aired on Sunday, July 13.
Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam told ESPN and The New York Times that he is gay on February 9. Sam later became the first openly gay player to be drafted by a NFL team when he was taken by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round.
Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay male athlete to play in a professional American sporting match when he took the field for Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy during a match against the Seattle Sounders on May 26.
Sheryl Swoopes, a retired WNBA star and coach of the Loyola University Chicago's women's basketball team, came out in 2005.
Rugby player Gareth Thomas of Wales spoke about being gay to a British news channel in 2009.
Justin Fashanu became the first openly gay soccer player in Europe when he came out in 1990. Eight years later, he took his own life.
Tennis great Martina Navratilova came out in 1981.
After his retirement in 2007, basketball player John Amaechi announced he was gay.