NEW YORK CITY – Teammates and officials rallied in support of U.S. Ski Team slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy after the Olympic medalist was featured on the cover of ESPN The Magazine coming out as gay. He is one of the first Winter Olympic medalists to do so. Kenworthy, the 2014 silver medalist in slopestyle skiing, chose to use the platform to not only express his own preferences, but to encourage others in his situation to do the same.
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I am gay. Wow, it feels good to write those words. For most of my life I’ve been afraid to embrace that truth about myself. Recently though, I’ve gotten to the point where the pain of holding onto the lie is greater than the fear of letting go, and I’m proud to finally be letting my guard down. My sexuality has been something I’ve struggled to come to terms with. I’ve known I was gay since I was a kid but growing up in a town of 2,000 people, a class of 48 kids and then turning pro as an athlete when I was 16, it just wasn’t something I wanted to accept. I pushed my feelings away in the hopes that it was a passing phase but the thought of being found out kept me up at night. I constantly felt anxious, depressed and even suicidal. Looking back, it’s crazy to see how far I’ve come. For most of my life I’ve dreaded the day that people would find out I was gay. Now, I couldn’t be more excited to tell you all the truth. Whether you've suspected it all along or it's a complete shock, it’s important for me to be open and honest with you all. Y’all have supported me through a lot of my highs and lows and I hope you'll stay by my side as I make this transformation into the genuine me – the me that I’ve always really been. I am so thankful to @ESPN for giving me this opportunity and to Alyssa Roenigk for telling my story to the world. I think about the pain I put myself through by closeting myself for so long and it breaks my heart. If only I knew then what I know now: that the people who love you, who really care about you, will be by your side no matter what; and, that those who aren’t accepting of you are not the people you want or need in your life anyway. Part of the reason I had such a difficult time as a kid was that I didn’t know anyone in my position and didn’t have someone to look up to, who’s footsteps I could follow in. I hope to be that person for a younger generation, to model honesty and transparency and to show people that there’s nothing cooler than being yourself and embracing the things that make you unique. Click the link in my bio to read the full story and keep your eyes peeled for the Nov issue on newsstands soon!
“We’ve long admired Gus Kenworthy’s courage as an athlete, pioneering a new sport to win an Olympic medal,” said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) President and CEO Tiger Shaw. “Today, we admire Gus for having the strength to tell the world who he is as a person, and paving the way for others to do the same.”
The article was authored by ESPN’s Alyssa Roenigk, one of the most highly regarded writers in action sports.
“Gus is one of the best skiers in the world,” said U.S. Freeskiing teammate Joss Christensen, who shared the Olympic podium with Kenworthy. “He’s also one of my best friends and a great teammate. I’m just happy for Gus that he can be who he is. It’s a brave and strong thing for him to do and this gives me so much respect for him.”
Gus’ story is part of ESPN’s ongoing series exploring what it means to be an openly gay athlete in the post-acceptance world. The full article is available at espn.go.com.
Release courtesy of USSA