The 24-year-old Colorado-native made the announcement Thursday via the cover story of the most recent edition of ESPN the Magazine and via his social media channels:
Today is the first day of the rest of my life.
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) October 22, 2015
“I never got to be proud of what I did in Sochi because I felt so horrible about what I didn’t do,” Kenworthy told ESPN’s Alyssa Reonigk. “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.”
Kenworthy finished his 2014-2015 ski season as the Association of Freeskiing Professionals champion for the fifth year in a row, and, by most accounts, is the most balanced freeskier in the world. Despite his massive successes, he said he felt incredibly insecure because of his sexual orientation.
”I was insecure and ashamed,” he told ESPN the Magazine. “Unless you’re gay, being gay has never been looked at as being cool. And I wanted to be cool.”
Kenworthy noted that he knew he was gay as early as 5-years-old, and that despite being linked romantically to everyone from Miley Cyrus to ice skater Gracie Gold, the machismo culture sometimes fostered in skiing wore on him. As a good-looking guy with massive skiing success, he felt pressured to be something he wasn’t.
“In skiing, there’s such an alpha male thing about pulling the hottest chicks,” Kenworthy told ESPN. “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.'”
Ultimately though, his announcement was met with support from the skiing and LGBT communities:
— Chloë Grace Moretz (@ChloeGMoretz) October 22, 2015
Proud of you @guskenworthy! You're the man!
— Tom Wallisch (@TWallisch) October 22, 2015
— sage kotsenburg (@sagekotsenburg) October 22, 2015
I mean, in a sport dictated by bravery, isn't being the first openly gay action sports athlete require the most bravery? @guskenworthy wins.
— Cody Townsend (@codytownsend) October 22, 2015
— U.S. Freeskiing (@usfreeskiing) October 22, 2015
— Matt Ufford (@mattufford) October 22, 2015
And the overwhelming response wasn’t lost on Kenworthy.
“It’s been a very emotional morning for me. Seeing my cover for the first time, reading the beautiful words that Alyssa Roenigk wrote about me and watching my piece on Sports Center has me completely choked up,” he wrote on Facebook. “I’m blown away by the amount of support I’ve gotten and I just want to say thank you, again, to you all! Your positive words mean the world to me.”
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