Sir Lee Pearson used his gold medal win at the Tokyo Paralympics to send a heartfelt message to the LGBTQ+ community.

On 26 August, Pearson took home his 12th gold medal since his Paralympic debut in 2000 when he and his horse, Breezer, won the Grade II individual test in dressage.

Following the win, the 47-year-old gay athlete was asked to give a message to the LGBTQ+ community by a reporter.

“Love has to prevail, really,” Pearson said. “Whatever shape or form, I think love has to prevail. If you’re born with a disability, if you have a child with a disability, if you’re born with same-sex attraction, if your daughter comes out or your son, then just love them.”

Pearson went on to explain that those who are “different” are not going anywhere, so we need to “embrace” each other whenever possible.

He added: “Nobody wants to be different but we have to embrace different people because that’s society, that’s the world. Those different people they’re not going anywhere.

“So you can say it’s illegal, you can make them feel awful, but somewhere in the world another gay boy or girl will be born. Somewhere in the world someone will be born with no limbs. Do you know what I mean?”

The Paralympian rounded off his speech by reminding people that he is “just a horse rider” but that he hopes to see more progress for equality soon.

“Life goes on and it’s silly in this day and age when we have countries that are still in the stone age, as we say, 100 years behind,” Pearson explained. “But I’m just a horse rider. Promise.”

Pearson has previously represented Team GB in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London, Rio, and Tokyo – winning 30 gold medals at European, World and Paralympic levels.

This year’s Paralympics have seen at least 32 LGBTQ+ athletes competing, which is a record and more than double the number of those who took part in Rio.

Although the figure is by no means definitive as there are likely more Paralympians who are not yet out to the public, there are at least a dozen sports and eight countries represented by LGBTQ+ athletes this year.

It comes after a record-setting Tokyo Summer Games, which saw at least 185 LGBTQ+ Olympians compete (triple the number of those at Rio).

Britain has so far won a total of 28 medals at this year’s Paralympics, with Pearson’s gold being one of the country’s nine first-place prizes.


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