Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy comes out to ESPN Mag: ‘I am gay’


Yesterday, ESPN Magazine released their new cover story on silver-medal-winning Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy. Kenworthy posted a link to the ESPN story immediately with a two simple tweets: “Today is the first day of the rest of my life” and “I am gay.” That’s how his ESPN interview began as well, with these words: “I guess I should start by saying, ‘I’m gay.'” This is being called a big deal because Kenworthy is not at the start or the end of his career – he is near the top, possibly on the upswing. He will be going to the Olympics in 2018 and fighting for gold, and he’s a favorite to win. Most Olympians who have come out have waited until they were retired or near the end of their professional careers. So… that’s why it’s a big deal. Gus is a young guy who has already achieved a lot, and he’s got years of competition, sponsorship and medals yet to win.

Even though he’s only 24 – he competed at Sochi at the age of 22, I think – he feels guilty for not coming out sooner. The reasons for why he didn’t come out before Sochi? He didn’t believe people would support him. And this: “I never got to be proud of what I did in Sochi because I felt so horrible about what I didn’t do. I didn’t want to come out as the silver medalist from Sochi. I wanted to come out as the best freeskier in the world.” The whole ESPN piece is definitely worth a read – go here for the full story.

A few months ago, I watched Greg Louganis’s HBO documentary and I was a sobbing mess. It was remarkable that Louganis was able to function and succeed as an Olympian, because it was simply an awful time to be LGBT. By the time the 1988 Olympics rolled around, Louganis was HIV positive too. Louganis described the awful way his fellow Olympians treated him, how he was shunned from the US Diving organization, even after he won consecutive gold medals. So… it was pleasing to see that the US Olympic organization has gone through a wonderful transformation. Immediately after Kenworthy’s interview came out, he received unconditional support from the US Freeskiing team, personal messages of congratulations from his teammates, and support from US Olympic organization. Gus says he’s been “floored” by the wave of positivity and support. Let’s hope all of his corporate sponsors stick with him too, okay?

PS… He really looks like Robb Stark/Richard Madden, right?


Photos courtesy of ESPN Magazine.

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43 Responses to “Olympic silver medalist Gus Kenworthy comes out to ESPN Mag: ‘I am gay’”

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  1. jferber says:

    Let me be the first to say that I am rooting for him 100 percent. He wasn’t on my radar before as I’m not sports-focused, but God bless him for doing this brave thing. I hope he wins the gold medal. Also, he’s super-hot. His being gay is NOT a turn-off in the Who’s Super-Hot? contest. I don’t really believe American women are as backwards as the media thinks. I’m turned off by a hetero man beating up his girlfriend, but I am NOT turned off by a gay man being gay. Get with the program, America! It’s okay to be gay.

    • Original T.C. says:

      It’s not about America “women” being turned off by gay men. We are not the problem, it’s the American power structure, headed by men. Corporations and sponsors, headed by men. Homophobic male team members.

      • Anna says:

        The only turn off with him is those videos he had a few years back that got some attention during the Olympics. I honestly can’t remember exactly what they were but I remember he secretly filmed some women at an airport and on the street and made fun of the “stereotypical” way she dressed (I think she had uggs and Starbucks) and then another time it was because she was hot and had a big butt or something. I wonder if the videos are still up or archived somewhere and if they’re able to be found

    • bored mom says:

      How incredibly objectifying! You are trivializing the movement for equal rights to sexual attraction? Really? Yeah, he’s hot but I don’t understand your comments about how American women will still be attracted to him so it should be dandy for him to be out. Seriously? Gay men are killed, beaten, sodomized, ostracized and taunted to suicide over the American females attraction? No. It’s deeper and about so much more. You aren’t enlightened for deigning to find him hot “even if he is gay” men and women do not exist to visually please you. Their struggles and their life paths do not lead to your gratification.

      Sorry this posted in the wrong spot.

    • Jessica says:

      I don’t think it’s “backwards” to be turned off when one finds out the object of one’s sexual desire is gay.

      Just like I don’t think it’s “backwards” to be turned off when a woman finds out the object of her sexual desire is a misogynist. Or if one is overweight and the object of sexual desire dislikes overweight people.

      If the object of one’s sexual desire is outright not interested in you, then it’s perfectly normal to be turned off from that person.

      In fact, more people should probably be more turned off when the object of their sexual desire does not like them instead of bending over backward to get them to like them, or staying in a relationship that is negative, or simply wasting time pining for someone who will never like you. Accept that they don’t like you and move on to someone who does.

  2. Nancy says:

    How sad that people still have to declare their sexuality in this day and age.

    • BendyWindy says:

      But how happy that they are able to declare it if they choose. I know the goal is to get to the point that it isn’t even a conversation, but only ten, 15 years ago, being gay could be a potential career ender. I think in time we will get to a point where there’s no such thing as coming out, but we aren’t there yet and having influential people who are making the choice to do so can be so empowering for closeted kids and teens who need to know that by and large, they’ll be ok. So, my hat is off to Gus. Do your thing, dude.

    • Lucinda says:

      This. I don’t get why this is still a big deal. kwim? I “get” it in the sense that the world has issues with it. I don’t “get” why people would care in the first place about someone being gay anymore than they would care that I have a cat.

  3. anniefannie says:

    I’m not sure “coming out” is even relevant anymore ? On another note he’s scorching hot!!

    • ldub says:

      this and THIS!!! *fanning loins*

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I’ve never heard of him before because I’m not a massive fan of winter sports but yeah, he’s frickin’ hot. I do think coming out is relevant now more than ever, especially if you’re an athlete. That’s still a pretty homophobic/racist/misogynistic world if you look at it from a global perspective. Some sports more than others.

    • Allie says:

      I think that’s unfair to say. We might hope that one day it become irrelevant but ask that to a preteen athlete who might be gay. Seeing athletes come out as gay and the world accepting them is still relevant to those children who feel like they have to hide who they are.

    • Bridget says:

      That’s incredibly disrespectful. Coming out is a huge step for LGBT individuals and is even more so for public individuals. There is very much a stigma to many people about being gay – consider that there is still no out pro-athletes in the major American men’s sports. As a society we have a very long way to go.

  4. Tiffany says:

    Corporate sponsors I think will stick with him. This is not a scandal and they will look like idiots otherwise.

    Great cover and looking forward to reading the interview.

    • Rhiley says:

      I agree. I think if Campbells Soup has a commercial highlighting gay dads and their kid, and Yoplait shows two women naked in bed together to sell yogurt, other companies are not going to mind having a good looking athlete selling their products, whatever they may be. And as you pointed out, this is not a scandal.

  5. Lama Bean says:

    Lord I hope his best friend Robin Macdonald is his SO because that would be a hot couple. Those dogs they adopted from Sochi are so precious!!!

  6. MND says:

    Understandable. Homophobia is very entrenched in mainstream society no matter how many media types support gay people. The homophobia at my son’s high school is rife. Boys call other boys faggots in front of teachers and there’s no real consequences for it, which I find disturbing. I joined the school council and sent emails to the relevant staff at my son’s school with links to organizations like the Safer Schools Coalition but they’re not really interested. They say they want to try practicing positive reinforcement techniques on the kids who missbehave. Meanwhile this week they’re getting some guy in for a parents’ night to talk about building resilience in your kids, which to me sounds a bit like victim blaming, so I’m going to show up to this parents’ evening and voice my concerns. Hopefully I’ll get to meet a few likeminded parents.

    • AG-UK says:

      My son refused at age 10/11 to stop wearing GAP clothes with the logo as they started saying gay and proud and def. calling someone gay was/is common. I picked him up from a party once and 2 girls shouted his name I thought to say hello he was 9, they then say your are gay. I thought I’d let it go and walk on but nope I grabbed his hand walked right over to them and gave them a piece of my mind. My son was sort of horrified but smiled when we walked away.

  7. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I’m sorry it is still so frightening to young gay people to be themselves, and I’m so happy the response he received has been positive. On a shallow note, he is gorgeous.

    • vauvert says:

      I know right? I do hope all his sponsors stick by him and applaud his move. (I think they will, partly because he is so stunningly beautiful. Reminds me of Rob Stark and actually a bit of Matt Bomer who is also gorgeous.)

      On a positive note, at my son’s school they actually have a whole segment in social studies in grade six on sexuality and the kids are doing projects on things like marriage equality and gender rights – it is wonderful because it makes them talk about it. It helps them answer the questions they may have and it removes the stigma and hopefully whatever negative connotations they may associate with being LGBT that they may developed from media or home.
      Even for open minded kids it is a big step – they are reluctant to discuss sexuality in general, never mind what they perceive to be “different”; my son has known since he was four that his grandfather is gay and while that is normal to him and he is an enthusiastic supporter of gay rights, he told me he was still uncomfortable to disclose this to his classmates. Can you imagine a teen who is actually gay him/herself, how they would feel? Talking about it in an open and positive fashion is the only way to remove the stigma, and having positive role models like an Olympic athlete is fanatic. Way to go!

  8. Tash says:

    Robb Stark is gay?!?! 🙂

  9. K says:

    I remember him from saving those puppies! Love this guy, congrats to him!

    • sa says:

      I was trying to remember if he was the one with the puppies. That whole story made him my favorite Olympian from Sochi.

  10. GlimmerBunny says:

    He is GOREGOUS. Lucky whoever he dates, no matter the gender!

  11. Darkladi says:

    D*mn, he’s pretty. Anybody that has an issue with his sexuality can suck it.

  12. Marianne says:

    Is he the one who rescued a dog from Sochi?

    • mom2two says:

      Yes, he was. He rescued a few of them if I recall correctly. I am glad he’s getting a lot of support, reading his interview brought tears to my eyes when he talked about how hard it was to hide his sexuality and how he would answer no to the girlfriend question but his boyfriend would be there.
      He is a very handsome guy and as someone who thinks Richard Madden is like the hottest guy on the planet…Gus resembles him quite a bit.

  13. Solanacaea (Nighty) says:

    Lucky guys, he’s really a cutie!! Our bad luck ladies. Wish him the best, though I don’t know him!!

  14. Birdix says:

    A friend of mine wrote this piece–was very moved by the experience of meeting him, telling his story. Said it changed her life too, more than anything she’s ever worked on.

  15. Viv says:

    It’s so wonderful that we’re at a stage in civilisation where people, including public figures can be openly gay without negative repercussions. We’ve come a long way. Long may liberal social evolution continue and hopefully it will spread until there is nowhere left dominated by primitive mind sets.

  16. Lucy says:

    So happy for him! I didn’t know him until now but I’m sure he deserves everything he has earned. On a superficial side note, he’s gorgeous!

  17. Eden75 says:

    I’m happy that he is comfortable coming out and can live happily now.

    There is a part of me though that looks bitterly on the corporate side of this. They are not going to drop their sponsorship of him. The outcry from them doing that would not be worth it. Corporations know better than that and will not risk the backlash of doing so. As for the Olympic Organization, I think they went through a “transformation” because they realized it looked way too bad for them if they didn’t. There is too much money tied up in the Olympics and the sponsorship of the athletes for either the organization or corporations to put a single bad word out there. I am sure that there are many within both that are honest about being happy for the athletes that come out but money is first and foremost and not supporting them would cost them way to much.

    I look at this bitterly because I ran one of the largest businesses where I live and we were very pro LGBT. The president of the LGBT worked for me, 3 drag queens and a few others who weren’t quite that flamboyant about their orientation. We were (and it still is) very proud supporters of the community and I listened to a lot of backroom chatter from other businesses about how not supporting would hurt the bottom line and a few other nasty comments that I will not repeat, ever. It is disheartening to hear things like that from people who clam to be progressive and that they care about their people.

    • The Other Katherine says:

      Actually, companies and institutions feeling they have to put on a politically correct face regarding LGBT rights in public, or else risk major financial consequences, is a HUGE step forward. Changing mindsets is important, but changing actions is more so. Changing actions also often leads to changing mindsets, as people get to see that an inclusive society is still a functional society, with happier, healthier people in it. If the threat of financial difficulties is what’s necessary to provoke institutions into changing their public actions, I’m good with that. I genuinely don’t care if the functionaries of those institutions sincerely believe in those changes in their hearts or not, except insofar as I think bigotry is a terrible waste of those individuals’ minds.

  18. I Choose Me says:

    I don’t follow sports much except for tennis, so I don’t know who he is but I wish him all the best. Feeling free to be who you are is so important. I believe that although your sexuality is part and parcel of who you are, it shouldn’t define you BUT until the stigma of being gay is erased, we need more people like him stepping up. Maybe there’s hope for the future after all.

  19. Robin says:

    I’ve thought he was pretty cool ever since he rescued several dogs from Sochi and brought a lot of attention to the issue of stray animals there.

  20. Ari says:

    Why can’t people just shut up about their sexuality? Do they have to make a big deal out of it? Just go on with your life!

  21. Matthew McGee says:

    As a gay man who struggled with my
    sexuality I’m glad to see a current top of
    his game athelete come out. It’s a very personal choice but if his coming out can
    keep one gay teen from suicide or give them
    The courage to come out the I think it’s
    worth it. I think he will actually soar in popularity now and if anything have a higher
    profile and make more money while at the
    same time being a good role model for others who struggle with the same issues
    he has.