“I had set myself up in my head for the worst-case scenario. I thought that I was going to lose sponsors and maybe lose my spot on the U.S. team,” Kenworthy says nearly two years later, after first talking to ET about coming out. “No one had come out in our sport, and I had heard people say things that had made me really scared -- other competitors or whatever -- and whether they were joking or it was just ignorance, I had felt very nervous to come out for all those reasons. The reception, I'd say, for the most part, is completely the opposite. So many people were so supportive and I was reached out to by people in all these industries that I would have never imagined. I just felt very loved.”
The love, though, extends first and foremost from Kenworthy’s mother, Pip, to whom he came out shortly after Sochi. “I knew in my heart that he was gay, but I wanted him to tell me rather than me tell him or ask him,” she tells ET. She has been there for him his entire life, helping him pursue his ambitions growing up. “Her whole schedule was taken up by my brother’s and my activities,” he says. And like most moms, Pip admits to missing all the back and forth and attending his competitions now that her son’s career has gone international. “I would love to go to all of them,” she says.
Now, as Kenworthy gears up for his second Olympic Games, where he hopes to compete on the freeskiing team in both slopestyle and halfpipe, he’s partnering with Procter & Gamble for “Love Over Bias,” a new installment of its “Thank You, Mom” campaign, which pays tribute to supportive mothers like his own. He represents one of the many athletes who’ve had to overcome adversity in their dream to compete. “I think that the most important way my mom supported me is, honestly, being there for me,” Kenworthy says. “My mom has been there for me in moments where I definitely needed her the most, and she has this inherent way of knowing exactly what to say and exactly how to talk to me, whatever the situation.”