US snowboarder Gus Kenworthy will be competing in the Winter Games in PyeongChang next week and there are no longer doubts in himself, both figuratively and literally.
This would be the first time for the 26-year-old to compete in the Olympics after coming out as gay in 2015.
Now, he feels like a “whole new person” after finally being true to himself. In fact, after he came out publicly with his sexuality, there’s more freedom to his movements out there in the snow, which made him a better player in the end.
“I kind of feel like a whole new person because I’ve come out publicly and I feel really great just about that and myself and being able to be open about my sexuality and honest and authentic and all of those things,” Kenworthy said.
He admitted that there was apprehension at first before he came out. He felt that his place on Team USA as well as his endorsements may be jeopardized. He also thought that his fans would turn on him. But the opposite happened. Endorsers, hoping to be more inclusive toward the LGBTQ community, signed him up as the face of their brands.
More fans then reached out to him to say they appreciated his decision. Instead of turning on him, he gained more fans in the process.
The best thing about all these is that his boyfriend, actor Matthew Wilkas, can now go to PyeongChang to fully support him as he tries to bring home a gold medal for the country. Looking back, he doesn’t know how he survived the torture of “dating in the closet.”
“It’s one of the most difficult things, especially if you are completely closeted,” he said. “And I was, so I had no one to talk to if something in the relationship was bothering me or if I needed to vent.”