Olympic medalist and X Games star Gus Kenworthy has come out, making him the first openly gay action sports athlete. The freeskier told ESPN that he started coming out to family and close friends two years ago, and now feels that it is time to be open with the world. In a feature for ESPN The Magazine, Kenworthy said, “I guess I should start by saying, ‘I’m gay.'”

In the interview, as well as in another for the Associated Press, the 24 year old reveals that after winning the silver medal in Sochi he felt it was not yet the right time to come out. He has also done so on Facebook and Twitter.

He worried that his fans would abandon him if they found out he was gay. He states that he battled depression and even thought of taking his own life.

From the ESPN story:

For him, being the best was a form of atonement. Kenworthy knew he was gay as early as 5 years old and felt different from other boys. With his brothers, he shared a love for skiing and hockey, but their similarities seemed to end there. 
”I was insecure and ashamed,” he says. “Unless you’re gay, being gay has never been looked at as being cool. And I wanted to be cool.”

He goes on to describe trying to fit in by going after women with his peers, but how it clearly was not what he wanted.

“In skiing, there’s such an alpha male thing about pulling the hottest chicks,” Kenworthy says. “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.'”

Kenworthy is still unsure if he will be accepted:

Kenworthy has watched carefully these past few years as the world around him has grown more accepting. Gay marriage is legal now, attitudes are changing. He was excited this spring when Caitlyn Jenner came out. He believes that people are more aware.

“But then at the same time,” he says, “people are literally oblivious.”

For him, there have existed day-to-day reminders. Take, for instance, the former sponsor who made a crude anti-gay remark about why Kenworthy was once late to a competition. Take his physical therapist, who once told Kenworthy that he couldn’t even imagine talking to a gay guy all night. (“I thought, ‘You’ve talked to a gay guy for two hours a day, four days a week for seven months.’ “)

He is relieved to finally be out to the world, telling the AP:

“I felt like I was already being so courageous with my body and my actions and the things I was doing in order to try to win and be the best,” Kenworthy said at his home in Denver. “Then, I was being such a coward in this other way, where I wouldn’t let anyone know. So they were battling each other. I’m excited where those two things can go hand in hand.”

He said on his Facebook post:

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.

He also tweeted:

Allies show support for Gus Kenworthy coming out

It is nice to see the signs of support already showing up on Twitter, especially considering Kenworthy’s nervousness at what kind of reaction he would get from the action sports world.


Jeff Taylor / Social Media Editor

Jeff Taylor is a journalist and artist. In addition to QNotes, his work has appeared in publications such The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing Charlotte, Inside Lacrosse, and McSweeney’s Internet...