Gus Kenworthy shared a kiss with his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas before Sunday morning’s ski slopestyle qualifying, neither knew the moment was captured by NBC’s cameras.
Kenworthy got the silver in the same event four years ago in Sochi, but he was closeted then and couldn’t share that moment with a kiss. He said of this year’s on-air smooch,
“I didn’t even know that that was a televised moment at all, but I think that’s amazing. That’s something that I wanted at the last Olympics was to share a kiss with my boyfriend at the bottom and it was something that I was too scared to do for myself. And so to be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcasted for the world is incredible.
I think that the only way to really change perceptions, break down homophobia, break down barriers is through representation. That’s definitely not something I had as a kid. I definitely didn’t see a gay athlete at the Olympics kissing their boyfriend and I think that if I had it would have made it a lot easier for me, so hopefully it did that for other people.”
Kenworthy is one of a record number of openly gay Olympians at these Winter Games, including break-out star Adam Rippon, who won a team bronze.
Kenworthy was disappointed with his showing but said his Olympics were a success beyond the slopes.
“I think that the most important thing in the world is for everybody to live their life as themselves, and be authentic and honest. I didn’t really get to experience that in Sochi, so it feels good to have that here.
It wasn’t the sports result I was hoping for but I’m very proud to be representing the LGBTQ community and happy to be here with other athletes that also are. And just be part of such an amazing and diverse country.”
My Seoul mate! He’s a little late for Valentine’s Day but he made it just in time to see me compete tomorrow (tonight for you guys in the states)! Feeling very lucky to have him, my family, my agent and some amazing friends here in Korea cheering me on. The past few days of practice have been pretty tough (I broke my thumb two days ago and yesterday got a massive hematoma on my hip that needed to be drained), but despite it all I’m still so excited to go out there and give it my all. Win or lose I’m gonna be walking away with my head held high! Thank you all for your words of encouragement and support, I wouldn’t be here without you! #TeamUSA 🇺🇲🏳️🌈
Kiss Kiss Bish! Didn’t realize this moment was being filmed yesterday but I’m so happy that it was. My childhood self would never have dreamed of seeing a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics but for the first time ever a kid watching at home CAN! Love is love is love. Also, shouts to @rightordoyle for being the third wheel of the century. Love you boo!
(Photo, screen grab, NBC; via The Guardian)