Gay skier hopes coming out will be easier in future
Olympic medalist says it was "a scary decision" to make
Gus Kenworthy announced his homosexuality to the world via a glossy magazine cover.
The freestyle skier, who won silver at the 2014 Winter Olympics, was slapped across the front of ESPN’s pages in October last year.
His first words to the publication were: “I guess I should start by saying, ‘I’m gay.’”
The 24-year-old American’s story brought him to international attention, with messages of support flooding in from the likes of pop star Miley Cyrus and former NBA player Jason Collins.
Yet, despite the positive reception he received, Kenworthy hopes such extensive coverage of future coming-out stories in sport will be rare.
“Someone coming out as gay shouldn’t be newsworthy, it shouldn’t be warranting a magazine cover or anything like that, which I had as my story for coming out,” Kenworthy told CNN’s World Sport show.
“I think down the line, it will make it so that it isn’t news, it doesn’t matter; so it doesn’t have to be something that’s a big announcement, just something that is what it is.”
Kenworthy, according to Rolling Stone magazine, became “the first action-sports star to come out” with his announcement.
“It was a scary decision to make as no one in my sport, no one in action sports, and very few men in sport in general had come out before me,” Kenworthy says.
“So I didn’t know if people were going to receive it positively or if I was going to kind of be pushed aside because of it.
“I’m allowed to feel comfortable now and I feel as if I’ve given myself room to just be me,” he adds. “I don’t have to worry about this other aspect of my life and can just let my skiing speak for itself.”
Kenworthy’s skiing earned him his silver medal at the Winter Olympics, finishing second in the inaugural slopestyle event – but that’s not all he managed to take home from Sochi.
During his stay in Russia, Kenworthy encountered a family of stray dogs living outside an Olympic media center – he took a shine to the mother and four puppies, which were suffering from the viral disease distemper.
His then-boyfriend, photographer Robin Macdonald, stayed on in Sochi after the Games ended and eventually brought back the entire canine family.
One dog had to be given to the Humane Society, while another passed away in New York.
“Two of them were living with me for the first year and I love them,” Kenworthy says. “They’re living with my ex now and are healthy. The mom dog is living with my mother now and she’s obsessed with her. They’re doing well.”
Kenworthy – who was born in Britain but grew up in Colorado – had more time to spend with his dogs than he would have expected in 2015, having been sidelined with a knee problem for nine months.
He returned from injury in style in December, winning the Dew Tour slopestyle event for the second year running – and this weekend’s X Games in Aspen is next on his radar.
Kenworthy is a multiple Association of Freeskiing Professionals world champion, but has had a relative lack of success at the X Games, with bronze in 2013 at Tignes his best result.
“I’m trying to keep my expectations for this season relatively low,” he says. “I’m coming off the back of an injury – I’ve never had a knee injury before and I know that athletes that have faced them have sometimes been plagued with them.
“But the Dew Tour win feels good and it’s definitely a confidence booster going into the X Games. I don’t want to put any expectation on myself, I just want to land a run I’m really happy with and hopefully I’ll do well.”
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