A World Champion Skier Explains Why He Feared Coming Out

But his doing so has helped changed the perception of gay athletes in his sport

When world champion free skier Gus Kenworthy came out, he did so in a big way, on the cover of ESPN . Of course, that doesn’​t mean he did so without trepidation. While he’​d come out to some close friends and family in the lead-up to his announcement in ESPN , he’​d always thought being public about who he was would have to wait until after he career was over. Instead, the Olympic silver medalist decided to be the first openly gay action sports athlete.

Nearly two years since his historic announcement, and in honor of this year’​s pride festivities, Kenworthy sat down with Tyler Oakley to discuss what he went through coming out and how his life has changed since.

In a twist he didn’t expect, the homophobia in his sport—that had made him fear coming out in the first place—actually subsided because he told the wider world he was gay.

“To me, I thought my sport was so homophobic because everyone called everything that was bad ‘gay.’ ‘That’s so gay’ or ‘The judges are being so gay right now.’ As soon as I came out and there was someone gay in the industry, they realized it wasn’t cool and it just stopped,” Kenworthy says. “Stereotypes that get perpetuated get stopped once there’​s representation.”