”I am gay,” the 24 year-old American freeskier, Gus Kenworthy, tweeted.
British-born Kenworthy gained world-wide fame in 2014 for winning a silver-medal in the men’s freestyle skiing in the Sochi Winter Olympics. He also earned fans for adopting four stray dogs during the games.
In an interview in this month’s issue of ESPN, he says he confided in his family and close friends about his sexuality two years ago, and now wishes to make the announcement publicly. He says he has known he was gay since he was five years old and that he contemplated suicide at times rather than coming out. He said he was apprehensive about the reaction from the sports community.
“They say it’s a community of individuals and everyone is doing their own thing and it’s not a team sport, so you get to be yourself. But you don’t really,” he told ESPN. “Everyone wears a Red Bull or Monster or Rockstar cap, a T-shirt and jeans and skate shoes. Everyone drives the same type of car and listens to the same kind of music. The industry isn’t the most embracing of someone who’s different. I’m nervous about that.”
But despite these reservations, Kenworthy proudly said that he was ready to come out to the world.
“Hiding everything away is so painful. I mean, it’s like you’re constantly lying and you’re constantly feeling like you’re being deceitful. I’m just at that point where I’m ready to kind of open up and let everyone see me for me, and I hope everyone accepts it.”
The free skater received an outpouring of support from the skating community, including Olypic medalist Grete Eliassen and fellow free skater Tom Wallisch.
Grete Eliassen tweeted: So proud of you @guskenworthy You have always impressed me with your skiing, kindness and courage. But today, I am in awe.
Tom Wallisch tweeted: Proud of you @guskenworthy! You’re the man!
Kenworthy later wrote on Facebook:
‘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.”
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