In men’s sports there are generally few openly gay athletes. In the four major North American leagues – the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB – there are no active players who publicly identify as LGBTQ, although a handful of former athletes have emerged in recent years. If a team signs Ryan Russell, a free agent who came out bisexual in 2019, he would be the second active, openly gay or bisexual NFL player ever.
There are many prominent gay players in women’s sports, including soccer star and world champion Megan Rapinoe and her fiancée, WNBA all-star Sue Bird.
Roberts said a hyper-masculine vibe permeated alpine skiing and pressured him to adapt, especially when competing in Europe, where alpine skiers are big celebrities.
During his time on the 2015-19 World Cup Ski Circuit, Roberts said he found himself in an atmosphere that almost encouraged womanizing. Instead, he chose his hotel room alone.
“There is the idea that as a professional skier in Europe you draw the attention of women and you are almost a little bigger than life,” he said.
He and others also said that being an island in the sport could keep people from getting out.
“I think it’s important to understand the broader atmosphere surrounding alpine skiing – it has a unique ecosystem,” said Chris French, founder of Ski Bums, the world’s largest LGBTQ ski and snowboard club. “It’s rural, remote, and mostly white and wealthy. It has its own tourism, real estate, products and services – even media. “
Roberts grew up in the ski hotbed of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and cannot remember putting on his first pair of skis. He was barely 2.