“I understand it, I know why they would have to do that, but I think that it’s cowardly.”
Gus Kenworthy has called out athletes who are afraid to come out of the closet.
The Olympic freeskier – who came out as gay in an interview with ESPN back in 2015 – opened up to Ask Men about living proudly as a member of the LGBTQ community and how he hoped to inspire others to live their truth.
“I knew that it was going to be a good thing for me, and I hoped that it would be a big step forward for me and that it would help people in the process,” he said. “I was hoping that if it helps a handful of kids, one kid, then it was all worth it.
“I just think I was scared that it was going to be a negative thing for my career, and it was maybe going to be the end of me skiing and me being successful. I truly didn’t think there was space for it.
“I think I would have just told myself it’s going to be better than you could ever imagine.”
Gus then said “athletes staying in the closet for their career and coming out post-retirement are cowardly”.
However, he did add: “I understand it, I know why they would have to do that, but I think that it’s cowardly. It just really shows that they’re ashamed of themselves, and they’re afraid. I just don’t think that they should let those fears consume them.
“I feel proud when I see other people living their truth, when I see my friends booking jobs or doing cool things, and getting to do that as their honest authentic selves. I feel really proud for that.”
Earlier this year, Gus hit out at Brunei’s LGBTQ human rights violations and Donald Trump’s administration during a passionate speech at the 2019 New York gala for The Point Foundation.
“There are countries like Brunei where gays are being stoned to death in the streets,” he told the audience.
“Even here in the US we have a president who has made repeated attacks on our community and our trans brothers, sisters, and gender non-binary siblings. We have a vice president who still believes in conversion therapy, for f**k sake.”
Gus recently took part in the annual AIDS/Life Cycle – a seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles – which aims to raise money for HIV and AIDS services.
Shortly after he completed his ride, he wrote on Instagram: “It became very clear to me the real reason and importance of our participation. I am so thankful to have been a part of this year’s ride and I’m already looking forward to next year’s.
“I pledged to raise $1,000,000 for the cause and although I didn’t complete that goal I’m going to participate every year until that dream is realized. If anybody is considering riding next year, I genuinely encourage you to do so.”