Although people seem to be more tolerant and accepting of others' differences, members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community probably still find themselves receiving unfair treatment and criticism.

The world of sports isn't immune to passing judgement on members of the LGBT community either. Many athletes have spoken out about how difficult it was to "come out" and some experienced hate and vitriol from people who do not agree with or understand their lifestyle.

With June commemorating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, it seemed like a good idea to look part at some of the biggest LGBT figures and moments in sports.



Michael Sam: Michael Sam was a standout defensive player for the Missouri Tigers while playing college football, earning Southeastern Conference (SEC) Defensive Player of the Year honors — an award he shared with Alabama's C.J. Mosley — while playing college football in 2013.

But most probably remember Sam more for his sexual preferences, rather than his play on the football field.

Sam recorded 11.5 sacks during his senior year and helped lead his team to a 12-2 record, culminating in a 41-31 Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State — a game in which he forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

The SEC has produces a large amount of early draft picks over the past decade, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But despite Sam's successful senior campaign, he was projected to be a mid to late round pick in the NFL Draft. 

Sam was selected in the seventh and final round of the 2014 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams. Some said the fall was due to his lack of size — he was measured at 6-foot-2 and weighed in and 261 pounds at the NFL Combine — while others argued his late selection was due to him being openly gay.

The former Tiger said in several articles that he received support from his teammates when he made the announcement to them that he was gay. But when Sam kissed his partner after being drafted and the images went viral, the public reaction was definitely mixed.

Sam's NFL career never got off the ground as he didn't make the Rams' 53-man roster. He also had a brief stint with the Dallas Cowboys on the team's practice squad, but was later waived.

Sam also received Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPN ESPY Awards.

Martina Navratilova: Martina Navratilova experienced a great deal of winning on the tennis court and is arguably one of the most successful LGBT athletes in sports history.

Navratilova won a total of 18 Grand Slam titles in singles competition, which ranks third in the open era and fifth all-time. She was also the most accomplished doubles player — winning an unprecedented 31 Grand Slam championships, which is 10 more than the next closest competitor.

The Czechoslovakian-born tennis star is just one of three women to have won all four major titles in both singles and doubles play — an achievement not even Serena Williams has been able to garner during her playing career.

News that the tennis star was in a same-sex relationship was first published by the New York Daily News in 1981. During the 1980s, such an announcement could have had career-ending ramifications.

But Navratilova's career continued to flourish amid the controversy. She won Grand Slam singles championships in three different decades, with her final title coming at Wimbledon in 1990.

Navratilova married her spouse, Julia Lemigova, in 2014.

Jason Collins: Jason Collins has been credited as the first publicly open gay athlete to compete in the "major four" sports — football, basketball, baseball and hockey.

His NBA career spanned 13 seasons, though Collins didn't announce he was gay until the waning stages of his career when he was 34 years old.

Collins was a first round draft pick, selected 18th overall by Houston in 2001 — though he never dawned a Rocket uniform. The seven-foot center made the NBA Finals in each of his first two seasons as a member of the New Jersey Nets, but his team came up short both times.

Although he played sparingly early in those first two years, Collins saw his role increase with the Nets as he became the starting center. He started in all but three of the games he played in over the next four seasons, with the team making the playoffs in each of the campaigns as well.

Collins made the playoffs in nine of his 13 NBA seasons, but never made it past the second round after .

He found his way back to the Nets after the team moved to Brooklyn, finishing his career with them in the 2013-14 season. Collins averaged 3.6 points and 3.7 rebounds and just under one assist per game for his career.

Greg Louganis: Greg Louganis was a decorated United States Olympic diver, competing in three Summer Olympics and winning four gold medals and one silver medal along the way.

He won his first medal, the silver, competing in the 10-meter platform at the 1976 Montreal games. Louganis came back to win gold in the 1984 Los Angeles and 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics in both the 3-meter and 10-meter events, but winning gold probably isn't what most people remember from 1988.

Louganis might be best remembered for striking his head on the edge of the diving board on one of his 10-meter preliminary round attempts. It opened a gash in his head and blood poured into the pool.

The diver was aware of his HIV positive status, but did not disclose that information — even as doctors attended to his head wound and other divers continued competing in the pool. The incident was something Louganis spoke about publicly in an interview with Barbara Walters as he addressed his experience of being gay and living with HIV.

Louganis is also married, wedding his partner, Johnny Chaillot, in 2013.

Athletes may still have reservations about whether they will be accepted if their teammates or the public becomes aware of their lifestyle. But regardless of whether people agree with or accept sports figures as they are, the experiences of the athletes mentioned above have likely helped paved the way to make it easier for today's athletes to do so. 

Robert Maler is the sport’s editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball and football and contributes content for various other sports as well. He can be contacted at sports@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.