Japan: Gay athlete hopes Tokyo Games increase LGBT visibility in sports

A women's soccer player has come out publicly as a sexual minority, hoping that her declaration will encourage other athletes to do the same.

Shiho Shimoyamada, 24, who plays for SV Meppen, a team in the second tier of the German Bundesliga, hopes to normalize the LGBT presence in Japan’s sports community before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“You will find a lot of company, absolutely,” said Shimoyamada of others like her, if they come out. She added in her message to athletes who keep their sexual orientation hidden, “Once you share your feelings with the company you keep, sports will become even more fun.”

The organizers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have promoted diversity and encouraged more lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to participate in sports. But Shimoyamada has noticed what is critically missing in the effort.

“You don’t see the face of a LGBT person,” she said. That prompted her to think, “It will be powerful if an actual LGBT athlete sends a message.” Read more via Asahi