Openly gay Olympian Gus Kenworthy says he wishes more athletes would come out of the closet.
While talking to Variety, Kenworthy shared his thoughts on closeted athletes in the world of professional sports.
Kenworthy talked about this topic to honor the nearly three-year anniversary of his coming out through an ESPN article back in 2015.
“I feel like most of my fears were unnecessary, and I think that tends to be the case with people who are in the closet,” Kenworthy told Variety. “I was scared because our whole income was based on sponsorships, and you get sponsors based off your image. I thought there wasn’t a place for a gay guy in my sport. There had never been one before me. I came out, and it was the opposite of what I expected. I was the most endorsed athlete at the Olympics, which was kind of insane to me.”
Kenworthy then noted how coming out ended up helping him professionally more than he ever imagined it would.
“When brands are trying to figure out which athletes to endorse, they’re like, ‘Who’s got a good story?’ They didn’t want a ton of straight white athletes who are normally the face of the Winter Olympics. Adam and I were the only two gay men. I walked into that ceremony holding his hand, knowing we were competing for the community.”
Knowing what he knows now, Kenworthy shares that he’s disappointed, though understanding, that more athletes haven’t come out by now.
“I really thought I was going to come out in ESPN and then suddenly other people would too, other skiers and snowboarders. I really thought it was going to happen, and it hasn’t. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t seem to be getting easier. But I do think that more athletes need to come out, and athletes need to recognize that they have a responsibility to come out. It’s only going to do good to have more representation and visibility.”
While we are on Kenworthy’s side of wanting more athletes to come out soon, we also have to remember, especially on National Coming Out Day, that the coming out process is an individual’s right and responsibility. Otherwise, you’ll have the negative effects of being outed like with Orange Is The New Black star Samira Wiley.
But, we look forward to the day when societal pressure won’t get in the way of actors coming out easily. We’ll be waiting in the wings with Kenworthy for that day.