PHOTOS: Sports stars who revealed they were gay
Former Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger became one of the few high profile sportsmen, and the first well-known footballer from his country, to publicly reveal that he is gay.
Following Thomas Hitzlsperger's declaration of his homosexuality, Rediff.com brings you a list of popular and successful homosexual athletes.
British Olympic diver Tom Daley has been called a role model for gay British sporting stars who feel unable to disclose their sexuality after the diving star revealed that he "couldn't be happier" since he began a relationship with a man.
Daley thanked his fans for their support and received the backing of British Swimming after announcing on Monday that he was dating a man.
The 19-year-old Daley, who won bronze in the men's 10 metre platform at last year's London Games, had tweeted: "Overwhelmed by all the support! Means the world! Thanks so much guys".
Daley had made the announcement on YouTube, saying in a video: "Come spring this year my life changed massively when I met someone and they make me feel so happy, so safe and everything just feels great - and that someone is a guy.
"It did take me by surprise a little bit. It was always in the back of my head that something like that could happen, but it wasn't until spring this year that something just clicked, it felt right... and my whole world just changed there and then.”
Image: Tom Daley of Great Britain
Photographs: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Former Leeds United player Robbie Rogers quit football and came out as gay after being released by the Yorkshire club last year.
The American's decision to restart his career at Los Angeles Galaxy prompted the New York Times to dub him "the first openly gay man to participate in a prominent North American pro league" when he made his debut against the Columbus Crew in May.
Photographs: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Britain's most famous case was that of former Norwich City striker Justin Fashanu, who came out in a tabloid newspaper in 1990 and committed suicide eight years later.
Three years ago, Germany captain Philipp Lahm said homosexuals should not come out because the repercussions could be too devastating.
"I would fear that he could end up like Justin Fashanu who after he outed himself was driven into such a corner that he ended up committing suicide," he said.
Photographs: All Sport/Getty Images
Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz has quite suddenly become a hero to many after becoming the first active athlete in a traditional male sport to announce to the world that he is homosexual.
Cruz, 31, had a girlfriend in Puerto Rico and a growing reputation as a fast, tough, counter-punching lefthander. But after his first sexual experience with a man, he was pitched into a state of complete confusion, reported New York Daily News.
Cruz said he was very scared of what would happen if people found out about him being gay. Several years passed. He moved to Jersey City and went 20 months without fighting. He got increasingly tired of pretending he was something he was not. Slowly, the world around Cruz began to manifest more tolerance toward homosexuality.
Photographs: Scott Miller/Reuters
This tennis pro came out as bisexual in 1981, shortly after becoming a US citizen. The Czech-born tennis champion spent much of the height of her career as openly gay.
Labelled "the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived," Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women's doubles titles (an all-time record), and 10 major mixed doubles titles.
Navratilova, who recently won her battle with cancer, is involved with various charities that benefit animal rights, underprivileged children, and gay rights.
Billie Jean King
Unfortunately, the tennis pro was forced out in 1981 when her former female lover, Marilyn Barnett, sued her for palimony and nearly lost all of her commercial endorsements as a result. But her career was far from over, and in 2000, she became the first open lesbian ever to coach an Olympic team.
The former World No 1 won 39 Grand Slam titles throughout her career and also the first ever WTA Tour Championships and was a three time winner of the doubles event.
King is an advocate for sexual equality and won the Battle of the Sexes tennis match against Bobby Riggs in 1973 and was the founder of the Women's Tennis Association, World Team Tennis and the Women's Sports Foundation.
Photographs: Allsport UK/Getty Images
The Australian former hockey goalkeeper, who retired at the end of 2010, came out in an emotional YouTube video, The Sydney Morning Herald is reported.
"I regret immensely that I wasn't strong enough as a leader, that I didn't step up when I was playing and share this about myself,'' he is quoted as saying in the video.
He is also dabbles as a writer, filmmaker, anti-homophobia campaigner.
Photographs: Courtesy: Hockey Victoria
Australia's high diving champion Matthew Mitchan is the first Australian male to win an Olympic gold medal in diving since Dick Eve at the 1924 Summer Olympics.
He is the 2008 Olympic champion in the 10 m platform, having received the highest single-dive score in Olympic history.
Mitcham came out in 2008 to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Image: Australian Olympic gold medal winning diver Matthew Mitcham poses with Joyce Maynge
Photographs: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Just last month National Basketball Association (NBA) veteran Jason Collins became the first active male professional athlete from the major US men's pro sports leagues to come out publicly as gay.
Collins, a free agent played with the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards during the NBA's 2012-13 season.
"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center," his essay began. "I'm black. And I'm gay," he said in a first-person account published in Sports Illustrated.
Image: Jason Collins (98) of the Washington Wizards
Photographs: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images