During the Women’s Shot Put podium ceremony at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Team USA Track & Field’s Raven Saunders protests during the event by raising her arms in the ‘X’ gesture over her head. The silver medalist also stood with her hands in front of her during the anthem.
While speaking to reporters, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver medalist reveals she’s not apologetic when it comes to being herself. “[My mission is] to show younger people that no matter how many boxes they try to fit you in, you can be you and you can accept it,” Saunders states. She also explains that people in the past tried to tell her not to do tattoos or piercings. “But look at me now, I’m poppin’.”
Saunders also admits she wouldn’t be at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics without the help of her therapist. “If not for sending a text to an old therapist, I would not be here [right now],” she explains. “All these things weighed on me for 22 years, I was finally able to process it.”
Saunders is a two-time Olympian. She made her Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games, where she placed 5th in shot put. She returned to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and has so far won silver.
Saunders Is One of the LGBTQ Athletes Competing At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
According to Outsports, Saunders is one of the nearly 180 LGBTQ athletes who are participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Saunders told GOMAG in 2020, that people can say whatever they want to say, but she doesn’t care because she can be herself. “I feel like through the sport it’s allowed me – on the outside of sport – to really start to show the world who I am.”
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics participant states that her mental health journey has taught her to find and be comfortable enough within to not allow the outside world to come inside and try to steal that comfort, joy, and happiness from her. “Being gay especially means happy, and that’s one thing I have started to really take pride in.”
Saunders previously revealed that she came out gay to her mother when she was in third grade. She was then outed to classmates three years later. By ninth grade, she was finally becoming comfortable with who she was. But admits it wasn’t an easy journey to get to who she is today.
“I feel like the atmosphere around a lot of things, especially when you’re doing so well, is ‘You have everything going for you so you don’t have anything to worry about,” Saunders explains. But admits that it was like a whirlwind for her.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics medalist also discusses mental health issues in the black community. “It’s OK to need people, and I feel like in our community, a lot of times through history, we haven’t had access to the resources to be able to do that.”