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.