For Gus Kenworthy, being one of the first openly gay men to compete for the U.S. in the Winter Olympics is “a bit of a trade-off.”
The freeskier opened up about his role off the slopes in a Thursday interview with “CBS This Morning,” and said growing up in the closet made him “realize the need and the importance of” having openly LGBTQ athletes in sports.
“When I was a kid, I definitely think that my life would’ve been easier if I had someone that was in my position, that was out and gay and proud and successful in their sport,” he said. “So I want to be that person. I want to be able to be a beacon of light for young kids in sports.”
Kenworthy will compete with the U.S. slopestyle skiing team on Saturday. Along with figure skater Adam Rippon, he has sparked controversy for speaking out against President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in recent weeks. But he isn’t backing down, and he won’t be visiting the White House after his time at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is done.
“When we have people elected into office that believe in conversion therapy and are trying to strip trans rights in the military and do these things that are directly attacking the LGBT community, I have no patience,” Kenworthy said. “I am so proud to be from the U.S. and to be from a country where you are able to voice your political opinions and stand up for what you believe in.”
He added, “I think that when you have a platform, you have to use it, especially if you feel very strongly about something.”