Women We Love 2022: Erica Sullivan

Erica Sullivan

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Olympian Erica Sullivan made history in the Tokyo Games as the first American openly- lesbian swimmer to win an Olympic medal. Her outstanding performance in the first-ever women’s 1,500-meter freestyle earned her a silver medal in a country that holds a special place in Sullivan’s heart: as a child, she’d traveled to Japan frequently to visit family, because her mother is a Japanese citizen. “Being one of the very few queer women in the sport of swimming has really taught me to be my own role model,” Sullivan tells GO. As she is a queer Asian-American woman, many minorities can see parts of themselves in Sullivan and can take inspiration from her success. “I want to be the role model for young queer people that I never had, and I plan on doing that by vocally impacting the community in positive ways,” she says. After winning her medal, Sullivan did just that. She’s used her rising popularity and media attention to shine a spotlight on the issues many like her face when pursuing their dreams, particularly Asian-Americans, women, and those in the LGBTQ+ community. She hopes her story can inspire others to be true to themselves and stand confident in who they are. “My goal is to get rid of the negative stereotypes that pre- vent people from coming out,” she says. “I want to show that you can come out as a mem- ber of the LGBTQ+ community and still succeed.” Sullivan is now a film student at the University of Texas, Austin, with aspirations to direct. –LC

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