10:14, February 12 158 0 usmagazine.com

2018-02-12 10:14:04

 

Gus Kenworthy Champions LGBT Athletes at 2018 Winter Olympics
Gus Kenworthy PyeongChang Olympics
Gus Kenworthy. Marc Royce

The 2018 Winter Olympics kicked off just a few days ago, but Gus Kenworthy has already become a champion for the LGBT community during his time in PyeongChang, South Korea.

After the opening ceremony on Friday, February 9, the 26-year-old freestyle skier posted a series of headline-making photos with figure skater Adam Rippon, who is also gay, on Twitter. “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it,” Kenworthy wrote.

And he hopes to leave a mark. “Myself being out, Adam being out, all these athletes that are finally out for the first time, I think it just shows a shift and a change,” Kenworthy told the Associated Press on Sunday, February 11. “Hopefully it means that in the future it won’t be a big thing. It won’t be a headline. It won’t be ‘the gay Olympian,’ ‘the gay skier,’ ‘the gay’ anything. It will just be ‘a skier.’”

The 2014 silver medalist said fellow athletes have confided in him in PyeongChang that they are also gay but have not yet come out publicly as he did in a 2015 interview with ESPN magazine. “That’s been insane to me,” Kenworthy told the AP. “I think it also just shows that there’s a lot more of us. But it’s still kind of a condemning time and hopefully one day it won’t be.”

Kenworthy’s social media posts from the opening ceremony elicited “the most negative responses that I’ve ever gotten,” he said, adding that he is no longer checking his direct messages. “It’s hard. It’s hard to read those. But I think you just have to take it with a grain of salt.”

Ahead of the 2018 games, the Olympian opened up to Us Weekly exclusively about his sexuality. “The reason that I wanted to come out in such a public way was, like, in the hopes of helping people that were struggling in the same position that I struggled with for most of my life, in the closet,” he explained. “I have people constantly coming up to me and sending me messages saying how much my story has helped them come to terms with themselves. And for that reason, it’s just been the best decision that I’ve ever made.”

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