skating by

Gay Dutch Speed Skater Ireen Wüst Isn’t Happy Her Sexuality Became an Olympic Story

“Athletes who are gay have nothing material to gain by coming out publicly,” says former collegiate cross-country skier Ryan Quinn, a gay National Guard member who competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics. The quote appears in an article on the gay sports website Outsports, whose editor Jim Buzinski notes, “There are no publicly gay athletes at the Winter Olympics that we know of.” That’s not true. Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst, who is competing in Vancouver and took home gold for the 3000m race at the 2006 Games, is openly gay. But after all the attention on her sexuality, she might agree with Mr. Quinn about the pitfalls of being an out athlete.

Wüst (pictured, left) came out publicly in the most normal of ways: in print. (Isn’t that how you did it?) “In a Dutch magazine, published in October 2009, the skater casually mentioned she had been in a relationship with her girlfriend since May of that year,” relays Eurout. “That girlfriend turned out to be short track speed skater Sanne van Kerkhof [pictured, right].”

An Olympic competitor dating another Olympic competitor? Quelle horreur!

Except it makes a great story whether the Olympic athlete is gay or not. But Wüst (pronounced VOOST) doesn’t see it that way.

“I want to talk about ice skating”, Wüst said in a recent interview. “You are not asking Sven Kramer (Dutch, European and World All-round Champion, Ed.) about how his relationship is going. So why would you ask me? If I would’ve had a relationship with a guy, you wouldn’t have asked me either.”

Perhaps not. Unless that guy was also an Olympic athlete. (Van Kerkhof competed in the 3000m relay.) Or maybe we’re giving the media too much credit. Where heterosexuality is the norm, any story outside that realm becomes juicy. Unless you’re of the Michael Phelps star caliber, where anyone you hug becomes a story worth reporting.

But maybe the media’s interest will die out as quickly as it arose: Wüst placed seventh in yesterday’s 3000m race.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #athletes #ireenwüst #olympics stories and more


  • Henk

    Sven Kramer, Dutch, European and World All-round Champion AND GOLD MEDALIST at the 10K Speedskating this Saturday

  • AlwaysGay

    Matt Mitchum embraced the media attention surrounding his sexuality before the 2008 Olympics and won gold. There is a lesson to learn; after it’s out you won’t have to use brain power and energy to conceal your sexuality.

  • Luke

    The sad, undeniable reality is that there are pitfalls to being out.
    It is totally understandable that some people have some degree of fear and reluctance about taking this step.
    They need our support, not our derision.

  • Mickey

    The more gay athletes that come out the better and the less of a story it will become. I’m in Vancouver for the games and met a gay athlete at a gay club this weekend, no big star, just a nice guy. We had a brief chat and I wished him well in his event.

  • terrwill

    Too bad they are all straight, like Johnny qWeir…….. : P

    (credit where due: stole that one from Bob A)

  • Mark

    The quote is not from Ryan Quinn and the article is not by him. And Ryan Quinn is neither an Olympic athlete nor (as far as we know) a National Guard member. The article is written by an anonymous Olympic athlete who was vouched for by collegiate skier Ryan Quinn.

  • jan

    she`s not dutch, she`s german, get your facts “straight”!

  • jan

    my bad, she is dutch, mea culpa

  • jason

    I think Wust has a point. If she were hetero, the press would be respecting her privacy. Being gay, however, they want to know every detail.

  • sandra

    Wust isn´t German! She is Dutch!

    And what she said is not completly true. The media are also very,maybe even móre interrested in Sven Kramers relationship,because his girlfriend is the eye catching Naomi van As,the best female fieldhockey player in the world and Olympic Champiom from Beijing 2008.
    That makes than a Golden Couple!

  • emmy

    I just want to know which gay club in Vancouver are the Olympians hanging out in.

  • a m

    Btw ireen is on the right, her girlfriend on the left. and theres a lesbian swedish hockey player, lesbian cross country skiier from i forget which country, and lesbian canadian hockey player.

    and just cause they ain’t out doesnt make em any less gay.

  • Mickey

    @ Emmy — I don’t want to say which bar in Vancouver, was on Davie St., but not the Pride House. I think most gay winter athletes are probably very cosmopolitan, following the tours in mostly progressive countries in Europe & N. America so they can easily sniff out a gay bar to go to at home or abroad. Most of them aren’t the huddled masses yearning to be free. Just real people doing their thing. Summer Games athletes come from a broader mix of countries, more 3rd world or repressive places for gay people.

  • wintin

    I am a gay Olympian competing at the 2010 winter Olympics. I am out, I have never been asked about my sexuality, and if I was asked, I would not lie or deny that I was gay.

    “I want to talk about ice skating”, Wüst said in a recent interview. “You are not asking Sven Kramer (Dutch, European and World All-round Champion, Ed.) about how his relationship is going. So why would you ask me? If I would’ve had a relationship with a guy, you wouldn’t have asked me either.”

    My argument is that gays are not treated the same as hetero’s, we need to stand up for ourselves so we can be treated as equal. I believe we are not at that point in society where some one can comfortably ask do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend in an interview and get an honest answer from the interviewee. If the answer was not going to be a big deal and it was a question that did not pertain from the athletes reason of being at the Olympics, it would not be a problem. Hence Wüst said she wants to talk about speed skating, as that is what she is here to do.

    However gays like myself and Wüst need to make our sexuality known for that reason, so it can become normal, and not a big deal. Gay people are here, they are everywhere, and until that day we sit on the same level and are not discriminated against for our sexuality we must be out there, telling our story, about how we got here.

    Were in Vancouver, one of the gayest friendly cities in North America. Ill make my sexuality known, if asked, but right now, I am here, to compete, win gold, and do my country proud.

  • Mike

    Wintin, who are you and which country do you represent, so we know who to watch for on TV?

  • Mickey

    Hey Wintin, it would be wonderful if a group of gay athletes from different countries came out on the last day of the games in a stand of solidarity once the pressures of competition are over. A breath of fresh air.

    By the way, I just got home from one of the entertainment sites — the crowd pushed towards the stage and collapsed a security fence. Reports of several injuries but the ambulance attendants were calmly pushing wheelchairs and gurneys to the site of the accident so probably no critical injuries. The concert and fireworks are cancelled tonight.

  • Diet van Tuil

    Interesting that you have the story on Ireen Wüst and Sanne van Kerkhof.
    Only: the one to the right is Ireen, the girl on the left is Sanne.

  • Murdochsroomate

    Hey Wintin,
    If you’re an out Olympian here at the games, please make yourself known at Pride House.

  • wintin

    I will be in Whistler later in the week!

  • Cam

    No. 10 · jason
    I think Wust has a point. If she were hetero, the press would be respecting her privacy. Being gay, however, they want to know every detail.

    What privacy? Every atheleat I see interviewed is asked personal questions. More likely if she wasn’t out nobody would be interviewing her except for a few Dutch publications.

  • Kris

    I can see why some people don’t want to come out in the Olympics. Instead of the focus being on the sport and the athlete it becomes a political statement that may have a negative impact on their career. I can’t lie and say that as a lesbian I’m not interested in the gay athletes competing. I want to support the other homo’s that are out there. It feels good to support those that we relate to and that have risen to the level of Olympic competition. Good luck to Wust, Wintin, and all the other gay athletes out there kicking some ass!

  • Niki

    Wust is indeed pictured as the article mentions, however it is on the right, not left. Van Kerkhof is pictured on the left.

  • Ivana

    Uhm that looks like the same person – either way that is definitely Irene on the RIGHT so her gf could be on the left or none actually…

  • astrid

    AND she won gold. AND she kissed her gf to celebrate; not an issue. Go Ireen!!

  • Wim Prange

    Nice touch: Ireen Wüst won gold today.

  • wintin

    Because Ireen is from the Netherlands and because she is from a very liberal society, her being gay and being an Olympic gold medalist will make no difference to her endorsement and sponsorship deals. This is a country where you can basically live free and do what ever you like, marry who ever you like, smoke what ever you like and have what ever fetish you like catered to in the red light district of Amsterdam. You have 12 year old boys like this one singing about his two fathers on national television.

    For me however, to come out, in my country, is a different matter. If I knew 100% that coming out in public would change nothing, I would. Sponsors make up over 50% of my budget, and with out them I would not be able to continue in my sport.

    I want kids who are sitting at home right now watching the Olympics to be inspired to be what ever they dream, no matter who they are, where they are from and what sexuality they are. I do not want them to go through what I went through when I was struggling to come to terms with my sexuality, all because of what society imposes on gay people.

    I would love to make a difference, but would my coming out make a difference? I don’t think so. However I will not hide my sexuality, if asked about it I reply honestly, although its yet to make national news. I will be out in pride once all my events are done, having a good time with my boyfriend in downtown Vancouver.

    Congratulations Ireen.

  • Wim Prange

    @Wintin, good luck with your sport and hope you WIN, if you’re not competing against somebody from my homecountry :-)

    I know having the ability to out yourself professionally without fear of (financial or professional) repercussions is a luxury. You are the only one to make that decission.

    That’s why we have to celebrate the accomplisments of people who do have that luxury, and blast it through the world. I have alerted some widely read blogs about Ireen’s win and her out-gay status. I hope they will pick it up.

    Can we at least know the sport you are competing in? I’m watching virtually everything this week.

  • Grabmill

    Wüst (pictured, left)… Sanne van Kerkhof [pictured, right].

    This is wrong. Wüst is on the right and Van Kerkhof on the left.

  • Wim Prange

    @wintin: Hey! I have a feeling you are Blake Skjellerup!
    Just read reports that you were officially out in NZ. Best of luck to you.

  • tahiruatoru

    Wintin: If you are who I think you are then you’ll know who I am.
    I knew what you were going through, boy I saw you struggling but there was nothing I could do and God knows I tried.
    I’m still hoping for that day you will forgive me.
    I’m proud of you, always will be.xx

Comments are closed.