Gus Kenworthy Is The Newest Openly Gay Athlete Our Sports Culture Needs To Accept
As part of the trio of Olympic free-skiing stars returning from Sochi last year, Gus Kenworthy was mostly known in the viral world for rescuing five stray dogs from the Russian city before returning home a hero.
That same hero came out to his family two years ago. They accepted him. Now he’s hoping the rest of the country does after this ESPN piece that came out Thursday.
The Olympic skier has been breaking hearts on Instagram for a long time now. As it turns out, it’s been his own heart waiting for acceptance.
Below is Kenworthy’s most recent Facebook post.
And here is his lengthy post with his official announcement.
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 very 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 so much 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. Maybe you’ve suspected that truth about me all along, or maybe it comes as a complete shock to you. Either way, 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 much of my life 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 that 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. Head over to ESPN.com or click the link in my bio to read the full story and keep your eyes peeled for the November issue on newsstands soon! #outinsports #comingout #gay #beyourself #bornthisway
Kenworthy’s annoucement shouldn’t only be accepted, it should be embraced.
Olympic athletes train for years for just minutes of competition and many of them don’t attain riches and fame. And for some, such as Kenworthy, who are fortunate enough to receive endorsements, the income can be just as fleeting, especially if there were to be a backlash over a widely unaccepted lifestyle choice.
No question athletes such as Michael Sam and Chip Sarafin have helped paved the way for guys such as Kenworthy. But they’re not rich and famous either. There’s also no question the Olympian took a risk simply by being open about his sexuality.
Kudos to Kenworthy. Now let’s see if the culture of the sports world continues to evolve as the rest of the country might just now have their first favorite free-skier.
According to ESPN, several other gay athletes are to be featured in their Oct. 30 print issue, including Derrick Gordon (UMass basketball), Megan Rapinoe (U.S. soccer), Chris Mosier (triathlete).