Jackson Harrison

Meet Jackson Harrison.

Over the weekend, the Arizona State product qualified for the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships following their routine at the Core Hydration Classic in Illinois. Jackson was acrobatic, agile and landed their flips perfectly.

Before they left the mat, they waved to the crowd, triumphantly pumping their fists in the process.

“[Jackson Harrison] is an icon!,” blared USA Gymnastics’ official Twitter account.

We agree!

Harrison also celebrated their big moment on Instagram, earning a “like” from heartthrob Brazilian Olympian Arthur Nory.

Harrison, who turned 21 earlier this summer, is in the midst of an incredible season. The out, non-binary gymnast won the GymACT team title with Arizona State Men’s Gymnastics back in May.

It was a more satisfying ending than the previous season season, when Iowa snapped the Sun Devils’ 14-consecutive winning streak.

“Ending this season in a much different position than we did last year,” Harrison wrote on Twitter. “This year, we end with love, gratitude, and as national champions. Thank to everyone, thank you to my team, and there is still so much gymnastics ahead of us. I cannot wait.”

Harrison publicly came out as a queer and non-binary in a 2021 Outsports essay. In it, they say they don’t feel like a man or a woman, and that’s OK.

“I just feel like a person,” they write.

Harrison started gymnastics when they were seven years old. When they were 12, they started the coming out process, telling close friends and family. Still, they say they were afraid to tell their teammates.

“A lot of people think gymnastics is full of queer men and femininity, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, gymnastics is a hyper-masculine environment full of chest-pounding, bro-hugging and yelling,” Harrison writes.

Harrison isn’t the only LGBTQ+ gymnast who feels that way. Australian gymnast Heath Thorpe, who came out as gay when he was 18, has made similar observations.

Despite that heteronormative atmosphere, Harrison says their teammates were accepting. Still, their fear didn’t subside for years.

The turning point for Harrison occurred when they enrolled at Arizona State in Fall 2020. They say they feel like they won the “gay lottery” due to the support they were immediately offered.

“When I came to Arizona State, I began to discover a newfound connection with my queer self,” they write. “It did not take away the fear or the nerves of meeting my new teammates for the first time, but it added a sense of self-confidence that a year ago, I would have lacked.”

Harrison takes their platform seriously, and never shies away from fighting for queer representation. Last year, they were prohibited from wearing makeup during nationals, and publicized their battle–even calling out their own coach in the process.

But Harrison was able to return to the mat this year and enjoy incredible success. That speaks to their maturity and talent.

Harrison says they’ve been heartened to see other collegiate gymnasts promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity, such as when the #FlippingExhausted hashtag started trending last year in protest of trans athletes bans.

“I know all athletes coming together is such a big thing, but the power is in our hands to do what we think is the best thing,” Harrison told Outsports at the time. “We’re the ones who are out in the spotlight, out working hard, and being criticized by everyone. I think we need to realize that, and take that power and use it for good.”

Harrison is definitely living up to that promise. The U.S. Gymnastics Championships will be held later this month in San Jose, Calif.

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