Happy LGBTQ+ History Month! Every October is celebrated as LGBTQ+ History Month to recognize and educate about people, places and events that have had an impact on the LGBTQ+ Community. All month we are going to honor some influential athletes, companies, organizations and sports figures who have made a contribution toward LGBTQ+ History.

Orlando Cruz (B. 07/01/1981) is a professional boxer. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he had experienced a lot of homophobic bullying from other people in his community. Despite conflicted feelings regarding his sexuality and the general machismo culture of the sport of boxing. Cruz decided to pursue the sport with passion and ambition.

Cruz represented Puerto Rico in boxing at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, a couple months later he had turned professional against fellow Puerto Rican Alfredo Valdez. He went undefeated from then on until 2009. Since then he has only lost 5 bouts and 1 draw.

With the prevalent machismo culture of boxing and especially in Central America; rumors of Cruz’ sexuality had swirled since his professional debut. With many competitors and spectators trash talking and shouting homophobic remarks. Having struggled with his own sexuality for years, despite confiding with his mother. Cruz continued to struggle with his sexual orientation.

However in 2008 during his World Title fight, Cruz realized that things had to change when spectators called him “faggot” and bad mouthed him before and after the bout.

After several years of coming to terms and fully accepting himself as a gay man. Orlando Cruz, in 2012 came out as the world’s first openly gay, active, professional boxer.

“I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican, I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”

Shortly after coming out, Cruz famously wore rainbow boxing shorts during a bout with Orlando Salido. He won the bout and soon became a role model for the LGBT community. He married his boyfriend in 2013 and has gone on to become a prominent advocate for the LGBT+ community, particularly for the LGBT Latino community to help dispel myths and stigmas that many Latino LGBT+ youth continue to face.

Orlando Cruz was among the first inductees to the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. He continues to box today and has received much praise and acceptance from the boxing community for his courage in coming out.

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