Gus Kenworthy came into the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang with dreams of Olympic medals dancing in his head. But while he didn't make the podium this time around, he did something far more important: He made history, and he did so without even thinking about it. His "good luck" kiss from his partner was the smooch heard round the world, once again solidifying that to be gay and an Olympian are not mutually exclusive. So is Gus Kenworthy at the 2018 Olympics closing ceremony with his head held high? Because he should be.
According to USA Today, Kenworthy hung around in PyeongChang after his competition ended to be there for the closing ceremony. He also told USA Today that the closing ceremony uniform (as well as the opening ceremony one) from Ralph Lauren "are pretty insane." He's been part of the Ralph Lauren team for the Olympics, which included modeling the uniforms.
On Sunday, Feb. 25, Kenworthy tweeted, "So proud of all these people! Everybody here has worked so hard to make it to the Olympics and have the opportunity to walk in the closing ceremony! Well... Everyone except Ivanka. Honestly, tf is she doing here??" So, uh, it was some pride mixed with some shade. In true Kenworthy style.
He included a picture of the lineup for the closing ceremony in his tweet.
Kenworthy is no stranger to the Olympics. Unlike Adam Rippon, whose name his will be forever linked with as the first two openly gay Olympians ever to compete for the United States, this was not his first rodeo. Kenworthy has competed before, at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. As a double threat in both slopestyle and halfpipe, in 2014 he attempted to make both teams, but only landed the slopestyle team. He did come home with a silver medal in that category though, as part of a full U.S.A. sweep of the Men's free ski slopestyle final, with teammates Joss Christensen ahead of him (gold) and Nick Goepper just behind (bronze).
This year, he once again failed to make the halfpipe team but landed a spot on the slopestyle team again. Unfortunately, this year just wasn't his to take home a medal. In fact, he finished 12th out of 12 in the finals, falling on his first two attempted runs, and then bailing out of his third. Kenworthy also was dealing with an ongoing hip injury and a broken thumb which he suffered just before arriving in South Korea, so he wasn't at his best. (The increased scrutiny he and Rippon both received for speaking up about their rights as Americans in the face of discriminatory policies by the current administration perhaps couldn't have helped, either.)
But the lack of medals this year shouldn't be held against him. He may not have taken home a spot on the podium, but instead, he became a symbol of gay rights and acceptance. During the warm-up, just before the event began, NBC managed to catch him on camera giving his boyfriend, Matthew Wilkas, who was wearing a "USGay” t-shirt, a kiss for luck. A small, seemingly insignificant thing, but one that showed how much gay relationships deserve to be treated with the same respect as straight ones.
After the image of them went viral, Kenworthy said he was proud of that moment. Talking to the press afterward, he said the following, according to TIME,
That’s something that I wanted at the last Olympics, to share a kiss with my boyfriend at the bottom. It was something I was too scared to do for myself. To be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcasted to the world is incredible. I think the only way to change perceptions, break down homophobia, break down barriers, is through representation. That’s something that I didn’t have as a kid. I definitely didn’t see a gay athlete at the Olympics kissing their boyfriend. And I think that if I had, it would have made it a lot easier for me. Hopefully, it did that for other people.
Kenworthy is only 26 years old and had a chance to make the slopestyle team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. We can't wait to see him compete again.