America, meet your LGBTQ Olympians proudly representing red, white, and blue.

Greg Louganis won Olympic gold medals for diving in 1984 and 1988. But he still wasn't quite enough to land a coveted Wheaties box.

And by "enough," I mean straight.

"[Wheaties'] response was that I didn’t fit their wholesome demographics or whatever," Louganis once explained of the cereal snub. "Basically, being gay, or being rumored that I was gay, [prevented me from being on the box]."


Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images.

If your blood is boiling at that, you're not alone.

When it comes to America's acceptance of LGBTQ athletes, clearly, a lot has changed since Louganis was given the cold shoulder two decades ago. But we don't need a cereal box to tell us that — just look at this year's Team USA roster.

America boasts seven out and proud LGBTQ Olympians competing in this year's games — and all of them are women.

These badass queer athletes are helping show young LGBTQ people around the world that, yes, they can play sports too — and be amazing at it.

1. Brittney Griner, basketball

When the 6'8" center isn't snagging rebounds, Griner's working on her mobile app, BG:BU, which helps young people fight bullying.

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images.

2. Megan Rapinoe, soccer

Rapinoe helped the U.S. women's soccer team win gold against Japan at the 2012 games. Also, she can't travel without gum and a reliable neck pillow, in case you're wondering what she probably brought with her carry-on luggage to Brazil.

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images.

3. Ashley Nee, canoe/kayak

Nee — who's been on the world championship stage for the past three years — basically lives in the water. But she can have fun on land too. Her hobbies include street art and long boarding.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

4. Kelly Griffin, rugby

Today, Griffin is a warrior on the field, but that wasn't always the case. She didn't start playing rugby until her freshman year of college.

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images.  

5. Seimone Augustus, basketball

Augustus, who helped lead her team to gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, started her own foundation to raise awareness around health and wellness.

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images.

6. Jillion Potter,  rugby

Potter is a Coloradan (who's kinda obsessed with flossing) who helped her team win bronze in the world championships in 2013.

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images.

7. Angel McCoughtry, basketball

McCoughtry has already set individual U.S. records at the Olympics for best field goal percentage and most field goals made. But she also wins brownie points for having a song available on iTunes called “Illusion."

Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images.

This isn't just a big year for queer U.S. Olympians either. Globally, there are more out LGBTQ Olympians than ever before.

There's a record-breaking 43 (and counting) out LGBTQ Olympians in total participating in this year's games, according to historian Tony Scupham-Bilton and Outsports.

And that's a huge flippin' deal (that diving pun's for you, Tom Daley).

Olympic diver Tom Daley (U.K.) made a splash after coming out in 2013. Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images.

So is 2016 just ... gayer than years past?

I wish! Queer athletes have always competed in the Olympics, of course, but ever-evolving societal views have made more athletes comfortable competing as their authentic selves. What's even cooler about 2016 is that game-changing new policies are opening the door for more transgender Olympians to compete too.

While we certainly shouldn't ignore the fact that, in many regions of the world, progress on LGBTQ rights and visibility has been much slower — and in some places, legislation is even going backwardthere's no denying that the global trend is bending toward equality.

Nicola Adams is an out and proud boxer from the U.K. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC.

Hudson Taylor, founder of Athlete Ally — a leading organization combating homophobia in sports — told Upworthy, "The progress is palpable."

"In the last year, we have seen more athletes come out, more allies speak out, and more teams and leagues take a stand than at any other time in history," he noted.

All of this progress surely puts a smile on Louganis' face. After all, he's been demanding change since his Olympics three decades ago.

“We’ve come so far, as far as marriage equality and so many things that I’ve really kind of fought hard for,” Louganis said. “I never thought I’d see the day that I would be able to get married.”

Oh, and that whole Wheaties fiasco? A popular online petition demanding Louganis get his cereal box got the right people's attention at General Mills earlier this year, and justice was finally served. He got his Wheaties box.

“It means more now than it probably would’ve then because they would’ve been celebrating the athlete [back then],” he recently told "Oprah: Where are they Now." “I’m a gay man living with HIV. I feel like I’m being embraced as a whole person and not just a part of me.”

Photo courtesy of General Mills, used with permission.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less