Gus Kenworthy kissed his boyfriend at the Olympics and made history


It was just a quick kiss between two men in love at the Olympic Games, but for the still conservative sports world – and the American viewing public – it was a huge deal.

On Sunday, NBC was broadcasting live as openly gay American Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy prepared for his qualifying run at the Pyeongchang, South Korea, Winter Games.

Shortly before it was his turn to take to the slopes, Kenworthy and his boyfriend, Matthew Wilkas, embraced for a quick good luck kiss.

It was natural, warm and loving, and also a rare and historic display of same-sex affection within a sporting, and especially Olympic, context. NBC was further praised for also showing Kenworthy’s supporters holding up rainbow flags after he qualified.

The kiss between the two men became a sensation on social media, but Kenworthy revealed that it was also a powerful moment for him personally.

“Didn’t realize this moment was being filmed yesterday but I’m so happy that it was,” he said on Twitter. “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.”

He told AP that when he competed in the Sochi Olympics in 2014 he was still in the closet and afraid to share a kiss with his partner in front of the cameras.

“It’s something I was too scared to do for myself,” Kenworthy said. “To be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcast to the world, is incredible.

“The only way to really change perceptions, to break down barriers, break down homophobia, is through representation. That’s definitely not something I had as a kid. I never saw a gay athlete kissing their boyfriend at the Olympics. I think if I had, it would’ve made it easier for me,” said Kenworthy.

Wilkas, who Kenworthy described as his “Seoul mate”, added jokingly: “It was such a little kiss. If I’d have known it was a big deal, I’d have made out with him.”

Sadly, battling a broken thumb and a hip hematoma, Kenworthy failed to win a medal on Sunday but his reaction to the loss was laudable. “Being here now, out and proud and living my life authentically, I’m walking away more fulfilled without a medal than I did at the last Games with a medal,” he said on Twitter.

Kenworthy is one of the most visible LGBTQ athletes at the 2018 Winter Games. He previously won a silver medal in men’s freestyle skiing at the Sochi games. He came out in 2015 and was recently featured as a proudly gay sporting role model in a major ad campaign for the Head & Shoulders shampoo brand.

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