As one of the top freestyle skiers in the world – known for what many consider to be the greatest half-pipe run ever, with four consecutive double-corks – Gus Kenworthy had to make himself at home in the testosterone-jacked world of action sports.
"I wanted so badly to fit in, and I ended up doing a lot of things I didn't want to, like sleeping with girls," says the 24-year-old. After he won a silver medal at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, Kenworthy wanted to kiss his boyfriend on the slopes, then reconsidered. "I didn't want to do something that would tarnish my image ... and maybe my sponsors wouldn't want to put my face on something," he says.
Then, at this year's X Games in January, Kenworthy felt the stress; he had a disappointing run and found himself becoming distracted – and paranoid that he'd out himself by mistake during interviews. Finally, he decided to be the first action-sports star to come out, in an interview in ESPN the Magazine. The response – including shout-outs from Jason Collins and Miley Cyrus – has been more positive than Kenworthy ever expected. "It makes me wonder why I waited so long," he says.