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Otto Peltzer: The Gay Olympian


Do you know who this is?

Well, he’s one of the first recorded gay athletes of the Modern Olympics.

His name is Otto Peltzer, and he was a German Middle Distance Runner who competed in the 1924 and 1932 Olympics.

He was known by many as ‘Otto the Strange’, due to his strange fitness regimes including rolling naked in the snow, which to be fair, may have been an early version of cryotherapy?

He was also persecuted for being gay.

When Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 and began a series of targeted attacks on LGBTQ+ people, Otto joined the Nazi Party, likely as an attempt at self preservation.

But it didn’t work, and Peltzer was charged with having homosexual relations with younger runners.

He was given a relatively light sentence but still couldn’t compete in Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics, so he fled to Sweden in an attempt to stay under the radar.

But after criticizing the Nazis in Swedish newspapers Peltzer was once again seized by the Gestapo and this time sentenced to horrific treatment at the Mauthausen (mow-toe-zen) concentration camp.

He managed to survive, but gay people remained heavily persecuted, and so this Olympic runner found himself on the run again.

It was in India that Otto Peltzer finally found not only acceptance, but a devoted following coaching the Indian Athletics Squad.



Image Credit:

Image 1: Otto Peltzer Via WikiCommons

Image 2: Otto Peltzer via Via WikiCommons

Image 3: Otto Peltzer's Los Angeles Olympic Games ID Card via The Paris Review


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