LOS ANGLELES -- The month of June is celebrated as Pride month around the world. It's a time for LGBTQ+ people and allies to come together and recognize how far we have come but how far we still have to go in the fight for equality for everyone.
One area that has been seen as stigmatizing to LGBTQ+ people is sports. All too often, the hyper-masculine environments in locker rooms, on the field and within the competition have made it difficult for those of us who feel "different" to be our true selves.
"I was suffering in silence. So, if I was going through this, I knew I wasn't the only one," gold medal-winning Olympic diver Greg Louganis said.
"Playing in the NFL and all of that, I felt that I couldn't come out," added former NFL offensive tackle Ryan O'Callaghan.
"After I came out I really flipped my whole mindset on things," Callaghan said.
Pro athletes like the WWE's Daria Berenato and now-retired soccer player Joanna Lohman are also helping change that narrative.
"I felt like truly myself on the inside and on the outside playing the sport that I loved in front of the people that I loved," Lohman said.
"Making it a conversation is so important because there are so many people that are in the closet, so many people that are still struggling with their identity and their sexuality," Berenato explained.
Having visibility and representation in all walks of life, sports included, will ultimately help lead to acceptance and more athletes feeling comfortable and safe enough to speak freely about being their true selves - hopefully inspiring others to do the same.
Daria Berenato added, "I want to show my younger fans especially, it's ok to be who you are. It's ok to be proud of who you are. It's OK to talk about who you are."
LGBTQ athletes speak out proudly about what it means to be out in the world of pro sport
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