In 2014, when he competed at the Sochi Olympics, American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy was closeted and had to keep his then-boyfriend a secret. It was something Kenworthy later said made him feel like a “coward.”
Now, four years later and totally out as an openly gay athlete, Kenworthy is proudly announcing that his boyfriend, actor Matt Wilkas, is in Pyeongchang cheering him on Saturday night as he competes in the slopestyle at the 2018 Olympics.
In a sign of change from NBC in dealing with gay athletes, the network showed the couple kissing before Kenworthy competed and the commentators referred to Wilkas as Kenworthy’s boyfriend.
“It’s something I was too scared to do for myself,” Kenworthy said after his competition. “To be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcast to the world, is incredible. The only way to really change perceptions, to break down barriers, break down homophobia, is through representation. That’s definitely not something I had as a kid. I never saw a gay athlete kissing their boyfriend at the Olympics. I think if I had, it would’ve made it easier for me.”
Later, after Kenworthy qualified for the finals, NBC showed his cheering section that include rainbow Pride flags.
Prior to the event, Kenworthy talked about how proud he was to have Wilkas there.
My Seoul mate! So happy to have my bf, my family and some amazing friends here in Korea to cheer me on! Tomorrow's the big day (tonight for y'all in the US) and win or lose I just wanna thank you all SO much for your support and encouragement. I wouldn't be here without you. pic.twitter.com/XwqWKldwbN— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 17, 2018
Wilkas also posted the news:
Kenworthy won a silver medal in Sochi and he has another medal shot Saturday night (U.S. time) despite breaking his thumb and having hip issues. But being able to be out with the person he loves is itself a victory.