Gus Kenworthy took the bold step out of the closet as gay today with ESPN The Magazine. But the world champion skier is no stranger to attention, with 200k Instagram followers.
Still, his Facebook post this afternoon reflects the fear even someone with the adoration of hundreds of thousands has when he's stuck in the closet - and how much that changes once he comes out:
Earlier today Kenworthy posted this great piece on Facebook declaring his big "Coming Out Day":
I am gay.
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. Head over to ESPN.com or click the link in my bio to read the full story and keep your eyes peeled for the November issue on newsstands soon! #outinsports #comingout #gay #beyourself #bornthisway
Kenworthy's been a huge hit on Instagram for a while, with his photos garnering thousands of likes. When you have a six pack and a nice butt and cute dogs and shake hands with President Obama, and you're not afraid to show off any of that, it's not a big surprise why he's got such a following.