Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy opened up to Us Weekly about all the attention he has received since giving his boyfriend, Matthew Wilkas, a history-making kiss before heading down the slopes at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The athlete, 26, kissed his partner on the lips before his run in PyeongChang, South Korea, on Saturday, February 17, and it was captured by NBC cameras, making it the first same-sex kiss shown during the Olympics.
“It’s funny to be hearing people say, ‘The kiss that’s been heard around the world,’ because in the moment, it was so casual. It’s just, like, ‘Alright, wish me luck. Kiss.’ And then go out for my run,” Kenworthy told Us exclusively. “It’s just something I do before every competition that Matt is there for. Then I finished the event and all the reporters kept asking me about the kiss and about how impactful it was and I didn’t even really think about it. I didn’t even know the cameras were rolling at the time that it happened. But I’m really glad that they were.”
The show of affection quickly went viral, with many people talking about it and praising the couple on social media. “I think it’s really important to have representation and it’s amazing to have a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics because that’s something that I certainly never experienced as a kid,” he told Us. “I think had I seen an openly gay athlete kissing his boyfriend at the end of a competition and having people accept it and be OK with it, I think it would have changed the course of my life entirely.”
He added: “So I hope that it had a positive impact on the older generation of queer people that didn’t get to have that opportunity and I hope it inspires a young queer kid to know that anything is possible and it’s a changing world and it’s amazing. I’m so glad it was broadcasted.”
The Olympian previously shared with Us how coming out has impacted his career. “I think I sometimes forget about it and then I’ll have an interaction with someone that will make me kind of remember and realize,” Kenworthy said earlier this month. “It’s like the one thing that makes me the most proud out of anything I’ve ever done in my life because it’s been able to help over people.”
The skier also revealed how different things would be for him this time around: “I think I’ll just be less inhibited, less encumbered. I’ll be able to be myself and I think it just takes a weight off your shoulders. You feel more free, you have less distractions and I think you’re able to be in the moment more and perform better.”
Kenworthy has also been open about wanting to kiss his then-boyfriend at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics but couldn’t because he hadn’t revealed he was gay yet. The athlete publicly came out in an interview with ESPN in October 2015, and a month later, he and Wilkas, 39, started dating after meeting on Instagram.
“We’re great. We work through all of our issues, we talk, we have amazing communication. But it’s also like … It’s up and down,” the athlete told Us about their relationship. “I spend so much of my time on the road and traveling. We’ll go eight weeks without seeing each other. It’s a difficult relationship, but we work on it.”
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