The American Gus Kenworthy will become the first openly homosexual athlete to participate in this competition.
The Olympic Winter Games that will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, starting on February 9 will capture the attention of millions of sports fans around the world. But they will also become a stage for the North American skier Gus Kenworthy to be seen allover the world.
He will become the first openly gay athlete to compete in a Winter Olympics.
At just 26 years of age, the UK-born sportsman of an English mother and American father managed to generate headlines when he left the closet and became, perhaps unwittingly, a reference for millions of athletes who still fight against the discrimination.
Kenworthy grew up in Telluride, Colorado, a city renowned for being one of the most popular ski resorts in the northern country.
In October 2015, Kenworthy declared himself gay in an interview with ESPN magazine, which he acknowledged having chosen to be on his own terms and to be able to help children who were in a situation similar to his.
The freestyle Olympic athlete who won a silver medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi (Russia) in 2014 gained notoriety before making his public statement by rescuing a family of stray dogs while on Soviet soil. The skier struggled to bring a dog and four puppies to the US, something he got after spending an extra month in Sochi to process the necessary papers.
As a couple since 2016 with the actor Matthew Wilkas, the athlete has told his life story on different occasions around the world, waiting to inspire others to follow their path. Unlike many of his colleagues who prefer to stay away from the revolutionized world of politics, the skier has made his position public with respect to different anti-LGBT measures such as the one that sought to prohibit transgender people from the Armed Forces.
Members of the American Olympic team are usually invited to visit the White House once the sporting contest is over, but Kenworthy said he has no intention of meeting the current president. “I do not want to feign a support that does not exist,” said the sportsman about the Trump administration.
Regardless of his role as ambassador of the LGBT community, the professional athlete is one of the favorites to get a medal in South Korea , within a discipline that usually favors American athletes.
Visa, Procter & Gamble, United Airlines and Deloitte are just some of their corporate sponsors , while organizations like Human Rights Watch have recognized their social work.
“I do not think I would have been able to come out of the closet 30 years ago and be successful in my sport at the same time, ” Kenworthy told TIME magazine . “My story is indicative of a change”.