Quick -- how many major professional baseball, football and basketball stars are out of the closet?
Now, how many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes are competing next week in the sixth quadrennial Gay Games in Sydney, Australia?
Twelve thousand and counting. While professional sports plays catch up with the culture, the numbers, it would seem, are on our side.
And of those twelve thousand, more than 175 will be from the Washington, D.C. area, part of the Team DC delegation to the Gay Games, the most the region has ever sent.
"It's an incredible number of people, " says Team DC spokesperson Charlie Dragovich of Washington's record participation, particularly given the travel distance.
Washington is fielding competitors in more than eighteen events, ranging from softball and marathon to ice hockey and ballroom dancing. The Gay Games are designed so people of all skill levels can compete -- both world-level and first-time competitors are expected and encouraged.
"Everyone is there to do their personal best, " Dragovich says, "whether that means taking home a gold, or placing 25th instead of 35th. The Games are as competitive as you want them to be. "
Team DC is an umbrella organization that helps coordinate the participation of individuals and teams participating in the Gay Games. Community support of Team DC has helped fund the group's efforts.
"We've had tremendous support, " Dragovich says. "Our fundraising events went far better than we ever thought they would. "
In honor of the area's athletes, MW photographed twenty competitors from Team DC. We wish them the best of luck in bringing home the gold and reaching their goals.
Click on these Team DC pics for larger portraits
Featured athletes (alpha by last name): Orlando Adan, Marty Ashley, Ralph Bradley, Dan Calamari, Mike Cruz, Taneen Carvell, Jorge Castilo, Charlie Dragovich, Charles Grayson, Barbara Lewis, Kevin Lorei, Scott Mackoul, Chris Miller, Jim O'Donnell, Derek Price, Tom Qualey, Andrea Reister, Richard Strange, Vivian Young, Jim Zhang