You’d think skier Gus Kenworthy’s brief on-air kiss with his boyfriend Matt Wilkas would be a non-event at this point, but a creepy wooden puppet who calls his wife “mother” and very much appears to support gay conversion therapy also sits in the vice president’s chair, so these are dark times.
The kiss, which went viral on Sunday, took place just before Kenworthy skied in the qualifying slopestyle runs. He took home a silver medal from Sochi and failed to make the podium this time, but it was his first Olympics after coming out, which he says is reward enough.
“That’s something I wanted at the last Olympics, to share a kiss with my boyfriend at the bottom and it was something I was too scared to do for myself,” he told the New York Times. “And so to be able to do that, to give him a kiss and have that affection broadcast for the world is incredible.”
Kenworthy and figure skater Adam Rippon, both of whom came out after Sochi, are the only two out gay male athletes representing the US this year, along with speed skater Brittany Bowe, who has come out as having a woman partner; the Los Angeles Times reports that 15 openly gay athletes are competing in total, more that the two previous winter Olympics combined.
Both Kenworthy and Rippon are earning widespread applause for using their platform to speak out. The Olympics opened with controversy when Rippon refused to meet Mike Pence and tweeted a screenshot of a statement from his 2000 campaign website supporting “resources for...those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” Pence was forced to awkwardly deny his record, and Britney Spears has been cheerleading, and then she did a twirl.
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