LGBT athletes among the naked sports stars in ESPN’s 2019 ‘Body Issue’

This week ESPN published its 2019 “Body Issue,” its annual photo spread of athletes with big names wearing little or no clothes. With the exception of a few well-placed balls, helmets and limbs, these men and women appear naked, and none look afraid. Of special interest to us, this year’s edition includes two out LGBTQ athletes: Amanda Nunes and Kelley O’Hara.

Of course, there might be other athletes in the gallery who identify as gay, bisexual, lesbian, queer or even transgender… who just aren’t out yet. As of press time, triathlete Chris Mosier remains the only trans athlete to be included. He was the first one, back in 2016, the same year Olympic diving icon Greg Louganis was featured.

We here at Outsports have been looking in — tastefully — each year since ESPN announced the first Body Issue back in June 2009. This 11th edition is the last one that appears in print, because of the looming demise of ESPN the Magazine. The final issue hit newsstands last week.

As in years past, each gallery showcases the athlete’s physical dimensions with incredible portraits celebrating their physique, and is accompanied by an interview.


Out lesbian UFC fighter Amanda Nunes was photographed on April 28 at the American Top Team Gym in Coconut Creek, FL.
ESPN/Photo by Marcus Smith


Amanda Nunes
ESPN/Photo by Marcus Smith

Out gay MMA fighter Amanda Nunes of Brazil is the first woman to hold two UFC championship belts. Her 11 victories makes her the woman with the most wins in UFC history.

She’s 31, 5’8” and weighs 160 pounds, according to ESPN’s biography accompanying their photos and video.

“Everything that I wanted to do, I did it,” the Lioness told ESPN. “Now I enjoy this moment because I work hard for these moments. Now I really can look in the mirror and say, ‘We did it. I did it.’”

The only other out LGBTQ-identified athlete in this spread is soccer star Kelley O’Hara of the World Cup Champion USWNT.

O’Hara came out in spectacular fashion in July, kissing her girlfriend in the stands from the pitch following the team’s historic victory over The Netherlands.


United States of America v Netherlands : Final - 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France

Kelley O’Hara kissing her partner after their victory of the tournament during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Final match between The United States of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon on July 7, 2019 in Lyon, France.
Photo by Daniela Porcelli/Getty Images

Like Nunes, O’Hara is 31, and ESPN’s bio describes her as 5’5 and 3/4”, weighing 131 pounds.

In addition to being a two-time World Cup champ, O’Hara is also an Olympic champion and a defender for the Utah Royals FC, as well as the winner of the Hermann Trophy.

“From the outside, playing in the World Cup looks awesome,” O’Hara told ESPN. “Nobody realizes how hard it really is. Like, it’s not fun. The nerves and the weight of expectation are not enjoyable. But if something’s easy, it’s not worth doing.”


Kelley O’Hara

ESPN/Photo by Heather Hazzan


Sue Bird, left, with he partner Megan Rapinoe in 2018
ESPN 2018 Body Issue

One of O’Hara’s USWNT teammates graced ESPN’s 2018 issue: Megan Rapinoe.

Her appearance in that year’s Body Issue was her 2nd time to be featured, but her first alongside her partner, WNBA superstar and former Outsports female athlete of the year, Sue Bird.

Now, if you’re wondering, where are all the guys? Well, out Olympic champion Adam Rippon also appeared in ESPN’s 2018 issue, mostly nude and as graceful as ever on ice.

Rippon wasn’t complete naked for that shoot; he wore socks and skates, of course.


Adam Rippon
ESPN/The Body Issue 2018

To check out the entire gallery of athletes for 2019 and all those who appeared in the 11 years dating back to 2009, visit ESPN’s website for The Body Issue.


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