An Aspen, Colo., columnist has come out as gay, inspired by pro skier Gus Kenworthy, who is competing there in the Winter X Games.
In a column headlined "I am Gus," Wendle Whiting of the Aspen Daily News wrote:
Today begins the rest of my journey. I simply cannot count down any more lonely days to the final mile of my trip.
There is one person that bears the most responsibility for motivating me to finally do what is right: Gus Kenworthy.
Today, Gus begins competing for the biggest prize of the extreme sports world, an X-Games gold, and it's the first time he'll be doing it as an openly gay man. I've followed his story closely since he came out on the cover of ESPN magazine. A fellow Coloradan from a mountain town, his story was relatable and much of what he said then, and since, resonated with me. Gus posted a picture of himself the day of his announcement exposing genuine tears of relief and joy. You can see in his eyes the great good he did for himself, and he described that moment as feeling as if the weight of the world was finally lifted from his shoulders. Every time I try to talk myself out of writing this column that picture reminds me of what is at stake.
Gus has given a gigantic push to his peers, and this generation, toward realizing that the stereotypes that defined gay people for so long are not the reality. Gus is making it easier for others by showing the world that he’s not a flawed human being. He’s a successful extreme athlete, and gay. So what? His honesty about living closeted and his reasons for choosing to do so are unique to him, and that’s the most poignant point: they are unique to each of us, and almost always difficult.
Whiting's article is well worth your time. It shows again the power of coming out, especially for people who can relate to someone in their sport or region. Kenworthy's sport and his relationship to Aspen moved Whiting more than did dozens of other coming out stories. This holds true for people like Robbie Rogers, who has inspired young soccer players, or Brittney Grinter in basketball.
Each coming out is universal in its way and yet unique and it's the collective power of the stories that make a difference. Welcome to the rest of your life as an openly gay man, Wendle Whiting.