Gay American freestyle skier and extreme sports star Gus Kenworthy has not only just secured his place at the Winter Olympics, but also a new role as a shampoo brand ambassador.
On Sunday, the 26-year-old officially qualified for his country’s Olympic team, making him just one of a handful of openly gay male athletes to ever compete at the Winter Games.
Kenworthy will take part in the slopestyle event in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month, joining openly gay teammate, figure skater Adam Rippon, who also recently qualified for the American team.
Kenworthy previously won the silver medal in men’s freestyle skiing at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He came out as gay in 2015, in an interview with ESPN.
“Very proud to be heading to Korea on behalf of my family, my hometown, the USA and the LGBTQ community!!! Woohoo!!!” he exclaimed on Instagram after qualifying for the Games.
At the same time, Kenworthy is also being featured as a role model in a new TV, digital and print campaign for the Head & Shoulders shampoo brand, titled “Shoulders of Greatness”.
In the TV ad, he holds a rainbow flag and says: “My shoulders carry more than my country’s Pride, they carry my community’s Pride…” The ad is remarkable, not only for featuring a proudly gay athlete, but also for making his identity an integral part of the campaign.
Head & Shoulders said in a statement: “As the first openly gay action sports athlete, Kenworthy will be featured within the brand’s Shoulders of Greatness campaign, which highlights all of the things people carry on their shoulders — pride, pressure, expectations — and how that motivates them to overcome any challenges and focus on achieving greatness.
“Head & Shoulders celebrates how Kenworthy carries Pride in himself, his country, his family and his community, allowing him to achieve greatness as he looks ahead toward Pyeongchang,” said the company.
Kenworthy added: “I’m thrilled to be part of the Shoulders of Greatness campaign as it resonates with my journey. Before coming out, I was carrying so much pressure that I put on myself. It wasn’t until I made the decision to come out that I was able to release that weight off my shoulders and find the confidence to be myself, which allowed me to perform my best.”
He also took to social media to celebrate the release of the new campaign, writing: “You may have already spotted this on TV but I am SO excited to finally be able to share my Head & Shoulders commercial with y’all! Holding up those rainbow colors on national TV makes me feel PROUD!”
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games begins on 9 February.