Olympic athlete and top-ranked, 24-year-old freeskier Gus Kenworthy is on the cover of ESPN and he's telling the world finally that he's gay. He's the face of the X Games and is considered the "top freeskier on the planet." He won Olympic silver at Sochi, but that didn't mean that Kenworthy felt confident that his teammates or others would support him.
"I never got to be proud of what I did in Sochi because I felt so horrible about what I didn't do," Kenworthy says. "I didn't want to come out as the silver medalist from Sochi. I wanted to come out as the best freeskier in the world."
Although he says that he's known he was gay since he was 5, he only started coming out to his friends and family two years ago, according to the story.
"I was insecure and ashamed," he says. "Unless you're gay, being gay has never been looked at as being cool. And I wanted to be cool."
Kenworthy says he was always asked about girlfriends and part of the stress was that he wanted a "TV boyfriend, explaining: "That's actually something I want so bad -- a TV boyfriend."
(We also remember when he adopted those cute puppies, and everyone wanted to be his friend.)
It turns out this story by Alyssa Roenigk is part of ESPN's ongoing series exploring what it means to be an openly gay athlete at the moment and will include stories focused on Derrick Gordon, Megan Rapinoe, Chris Mosier, and others. ESPN The Magazine's "Being Out" issue on newsstands Oct. 30.
On Twitter, Kenworthy shared this:
Today is the first day of the rest of my life.
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) October 22, 2015
And on Facebook, he posted this statement:
"Wow, it feels good to write those words. For most of my life, I’ve been afraid to embrace that truth about myself. Recently though, I’ve gotten to the point where the pain of holding onto the lie is greater than the fear of letting go, and I’m very proud to finally be letting my guard down.
"My sexuality has been something I’ve struggled to come to terms with. I’ve known I was gay since I was a kid but growing up in a town of 2,000 people, a class of 48 kids and then turning pro as an athlete when I was 16, it just wasn’t something I wanted to accept. I pushed my feelings away in the hopes that it was a passing phase but the thought of being found out kept me up at night. I constantly felt anxious, depressed and even suicidal.
"Looking back, it’s crazy to see how far I’ve come. For so much of my life I’ve dreaded the day that people would find out I was gay. Now, I couldn’t be more excited to tell you all the truth. Maybe you’ve suspected that truth about me all along, or maybe it comes as a complete shock to you. Either way, it’s important for me to be open and honest with you all. Y’all have supported me through a lot of my highs and lows and I hope you'll stay by my side as I make this transformation into the genuine me - the me that I’ve always really been.
"I am so thankful to ESPN for giving me this opportunity and to Alyssa Roenigk for telling my story to the world. I think about the pain I put myself through by closeting myself for so much of my life and it breaks my heart. If only I knew then what I know now: that the people who love you, who really care about you, will be by your side no matter what; and, that those who aren’t accepting of you are not the people you want or need in your life anyway.
"Part of the reason that I had such a difficult time as a kid was that I didn’t know anyone in my position and didn’t have someone to look up to, who’s footsteps I could follow in. I hope to be that person for a younger generation, to model honesty and transparency and to show people that there’s nothing cooler than being yourself and embracing the things that make you unique."
Watch the ESPN interview below: