Speaking on Sunday while the ceremony introducing the medalists proceeded without him at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Kenworthy said, “It’s all good.” — from: “Gus Kenworthy Wins Without Making the Podium” – The New York Times
It was one of those things that made me pause, rewind, and want to look at again. Did that really happen? On television? Did I just witness an Olympic moment? Last night, NBC aired a simple yet historic kiss between Olympic free skier Gus Kenworthy and his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas before Kenworthy’s qualifying run in PyeongChang. As the New York Times noted, he won without making the podium:
If Kenworthy had to choose between winning a medal while leading a closeted existence or failing to grace the podium while living an authentic life, it wouldn’t be close. “If you look at me, I’m bummed but I’m not sulking, I’m not crying,” he said, adding, “Being out at these Games has kind of meant the world to me, just getting to really be myself and be authentic. And I think landing a run in the final and getting on the podium obviously would have been icing on the cake, but even though it didn’t happen for me I still had a wonderful Olympic experience.”
I love watching the Olympics. The stories behind all the competitors are heart-warming, some are heart-wrenching, and many are inspiring. This Olympic has not been short of controversy, but moments like last night’s kiss just make me believe that we still have heroes and men we can look up to — if only for one small action that can change or influence a person’s life.
Had I watched last night’s kiss as a young boy, I think my life today would have been different. To see on television two men kiss and love each other at an Olympic game would have made me feel like I belonged to a larger group, that I was not the only boy in the world who looked up and wanted to be like other boys, and that one day some other boy would want to kiss me on television and tell the world I was worthy of his love. Wow, that would have meant the world to me.
Last night’s kiss may have not been a big deal to some. I’m sure someone must have been upset and penned an angry letter to NBC and started a campaign to boycott the Olympics — or something. But for this boy, who still sits and marvels at men who have the guts and authenticity to be themselves, I stand up and cheer for the kind of role model I wish I had when I was growing up. Now that’s a gay hero to me, and a great Olympic moment.