A dynamic duo! Gus Kenworthy opened up exclusively to Life & Style about his friendship with fellow gay Olympian Adam Rippon. According to the freestyle skier, 26, he and Adam, 28, were able to bond before finally meeting at the Winter Games in South Korea.
"We have been messaging back and forth for months encouraging each other during qualifiers and I was so excited when he was named to the team," Gus said of the figure skater, who was the first openly gay man to ever qualify for the Winter Olympics as a competitor for Team USA. "He was so supportive of me as well and was following my events hoping that I would make the team as well. So we’ve connected a lot and have a bond going."
Gus — who walked alongside Adam in the Opening Ceremony — has recently partnered with Head & Shoulders for their Shoulders of Greatness campaign. Naturally, the handsome athlete feels a responsibility to carry the pride of the LGBTQ community on his shoulders as he competes for the first time since coming out on the cover of ESPN The Magazine in 2015, one year after winning a silver medal for Team USA at his first Olympics in 2014.
(Photo Credit: P&G)
"I couldn’t be more proud to be out and compete and be true to myself. It feels like such an accomplishment and also a luxury that a lot of athletes weren’t afforded in the past, which I think signifies change," he told Life & Style. "I’m so excited to be here with Adam Rippon getting to be our true selves while we compete."
Gus is optimistic that his and Adam’s participation in this year’s Olympics will shine a light of hope for LGBTQ generations, both young and old. "I’m hoping to inspire LGBTQ youth and be someone that they see themselves in and someone they can emulate or look up to. Since the Head & Shoulders commercial came out, I’ve been reading the comments and it shows that I’ve already been doing that for both the younger and older generations," said Gus. "For the older, it’s people saying they wish this could have been an ad when they were younger."
He added, "It makes me feel good that Head & Shoulders is doing this groundbreaking campaign. The comments inspire me as well — they pick me up. It makes me feel so lucky to see that it’s a different world now than it was for the older generation."
Gus’ impassioned remarks come days after he took to Instagram to share a photo of himself and Adam locked in a sweet embrace, accompanied by a caption calling out Vice President Mike Pence. Adam previously criticized the VP’s role in leading the United States' delegation at the Olympics given his documented opposition to gay rights — and Gus made it clear that he feels the same way.
“I feel incredibly honored to be here in Korea competing for the US and I'm so proud to be representing the LGBTQ community alongside this amazing guy! Eat your heart out, Pence,” Gus wrote alongside the cute pic. “#TeamUSA #TeamUSGay 🇺🇲🏳️🌈”