Olympic Skier Gus Kenworthy Comes Out as Gay

by John Boone 10:35 AM PDT, October 22, 2015
Photo: Peter Hapak for ESPN The Magazine

You might know Gus Kenworthy as the silver medal-winning Olympic skier. Or maybe you know the 24-year-old as one of the top free skiers in the world, or an X Games regular. Maybe you remember him as the athlete who saved those stray puppies in Sochi, back when the government was killing them during the Games:

Now, Kenworthy wants you to know something else about him. On Thursday, he tweeted, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.” He followed it up with his new ESPN The Magazine cover and simply captioned it, “I am gay.”

“For most of my life, I’ve been afraid to embrace that truth about myself,” Kenworthy wrote on Facebook. “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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Kenworthy admits that his sexuality has always been something that he’s struggled with. “I’ve known I was gay since I was a kid but growing up in a town of 2,000 people, a class of 48 kids and then turning pro as an athlete when I was 16, it just wasn’t something I wanted to accept,” he says.

“I pushed my feelings away in the hopes that it was a passing phase but the thought of being found out kept me up at night," he recalls, revealing that at times he felt depressed and even suicidal.

"In skiing, there's such an alpha male thing about pulling the hottest chicks," he 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?’”

After spending so much of his life dreading when people would find out that he is gay, he now says, “I couldn’t be more excited to tell you all the truth…If only I knew then what I know now: that the people who love you, who really care about you, will be by your side no matter what.”

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Photo: Peter Hapak for ESPN The Magazine

After coming out, Kenworthy will happily take on his role as role model. “Part of the reason that I had such a difficult time as a kid was that I didn’t know anyone in my position and didn’t have someone to look up to, who’s footsteps I could follow in,” he explains.

“I hope to be that person for a younger generation, to model honesty and transparency and to show people that there’s nothing cooler than being yourself and embracing the things that make you unique,” he concludes.

Now, find out what Ellen Page had to say about her experience coming out: