One of the byproducts of athletes coming out as LGBTQ is that they inspire those people still wrestling with their sexual orientation. Olympians Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy discovered this at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.
They have learned about other gay athletes and coaches, because a trickle of those athletes and coaches have approached them to say thanks. Asked of an estimate of how many, Kenworthy began with “60” and then said, “I was kidding,” after which Rippon said, “I was like, Oh, my. . . ”
“I had two athletes and a coach come up to me,” Kenworthy said. “And Adam had . . .
“I had a coach,” Rippon said.
Rippon, a figure skater, and Kenworthy, a freestyle skier, both came out as gay in 2015 and were the most prominent American athletes among the 15 out Winter Olympians. They both realized that they have become symbols of hope for others still closeted, telling Chuck Culpepper of the Washington Post (himself openly gay) that “they’re grateful for the reach of their voices.”
Obviously, neither man gave identifying details about the athletes and coaches who approached them, except Kenworthy noted that one coach came from an Asian nation where homosexuality is not generally accepted.
What happened to Rippon and Kenworthy is what frequently happens when LGBT athletes come out — they are contacted by other athletes not yet out. Pro athletes Jason Collins, Michael Sam and Robbie Rogers have all talked about this. This also occurs when Outsports runs first-person coming out stories, which all include contact information.
Athletes are able to relate to other athletes on many levels. “I think that with all athletes, there is a mutual respect for one another, because we understand what it takes to get to this place,” Kenworthy said. This is why visibility is so important in sports and why everyone who is in a position to do so, should come out.