Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy has come out of the closet. Kenworthy, who won AFP World Championships overall titles in 2011, 2012, and 2013, won silver at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia and won his first medal, a bronze, at the X Games in Tignes, France in the slopestyle event, came out on social media and in an interview with ESPN:
Gus Kenworthy started coming out to his family and closest friends nearly two years ago. His mom said she knew. His brother said he was proud. His best friend voiced unrelenting support. And if Gus Kenworthy were an average 24-year-old, the announcement — the story — might have ended there. But Gus Kenworthy is not an average 24-year-old. He is the top freeskier on the planet, an Olympic medalist, a face of the X Games. He is an elite athlete competing in the world of action sports, where sponsors — and income — are inextricably linked to image. In other words, he is an athlete with a lot to lose. But Gus Kenworthy is ready to tell that world, his sport, his truth. And so, as we sit down together in Los Angeles in September, he begins the only way he knows how: “I guess I should start by saying, ‘I’m gay.'”
Kenworthy tells the magazine that he’s known he is gay since the age of 5, he has contemplated suicide, and he made a promise to himself after the Sochi Games to tell the world the truth about himself — but only after he had become the best free skier in the world.
Kenworthy tells ESPN that he felt a tremendous amount of pressure to conform to the macho world of skiing, particularly with women:
“In skiing, there’s such an alpha male thing about pulling the hottest chicks,” Kenworthy says. “I know hooking up with hot girls doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world. But I literally would sleep with a girl and then cry about it afterward. I’m like, ‘What am I doing? I don’t know what I’m doing.'”
He says the dishonesty has often deeply affected his confidence in the sport:
“Part of [the stress] is the fact that I’ve never had a TV boyfriend,” he says. “That’s actually something I want so bad — a TV boyfriend.”
He says he sees the homophobia all around him:
Take, for instance, the former sponsor who made a crude anti-gay remark about why Kenworthy was once late to a competition. Take his physical therapist, who once told Kenworthy that he couldn’t even imagine talking to a gay guy all night. (“I thought, ‘You’ve talked to a gay guy for two hours a day, four days a week for seven months.’ “)
Take the constant drumbeat of living in a culture that uses the words “gay” and “fag” as commonly as “stoked.” A daily check of social media for Kenworthy means encountering posts written by friends or peers who, without knowing it, reveal what they think about his sexuality.
He’s nervous about how sponsors will react: “The industry isn’t the most embracing of someone who’s different. I’m nervous about that.”
But at the same time: “I want to be the guy who comes out, wins s— and is like, I’m taking names.”
Read the full story at ESPN. Continue below for Kenworthy’s social media announcements.
This has been reposted from Towleroad.