Out Olympic free skier Gus Kenworthy sat down with Ellen today ahead of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea to talk about posing naked on a mountain for ESPN’s Body Issue, and his groundbreaking Head & Shoulders ad, which was the first national ad to show a Pride flag.
Kenworthy also spoke out about training, including a bad fall he took last month. Then Ellen took a long time to stare at a nearly naked photo of Kenworthy’s big purple leg bruise.
Kenworthy also repeated his criticism of Vice President Mike Pence leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympics.
Said Kenworthy: “It seems like a strange choice for me because we’re in 2018, we’re going to the Olympics and myself and Adam Rippon are the two first openly gay males competing in the Olympics…but then to have someone leading the delegation that’s directly attacked the LGBT community and just a cabinet in general that just sort of stands against us and has tried to do things to set us back – and I feel like the Olympics is all about inclusion and people coming together. It seems like it’s not really doing that.”
Kenworthy recently spoke to the Washington Post in a video profile and talked about where he is today as compared to Sochi four years ago.
“For me being in the closet I guess I just didn’t picture another life for myself. I thought that’s kind of like how it had to be and after skiing was done I’d be able to like have a boyfriend, have a husband, be out, be proud, but it was gonna be after everything else. It just got to the point where the pain of lying and holding on to it…I’d always feel like I was avoiding answers and never getting to be myself was just so painful.”
He had a handful of small deals in Sochi, but he’ll head to PyeongChang with corporate backing like few others with several big-name companies on board, including Visa, Toyota, United, Procter & Gamble, Ralph Lauren, Chobani, Samsung and Deloitte. Kenworthy being gay didn’t scare them away; it only seemed to make him a more attractive spokesman.
“I think all these brands want to tell my story, and my story isn’t just the story of an athlete,” he explained. “It’s not just the story of competing and doing well. It’s battling in the closet and other things that I had to deal with as a kid. I don’t think that should be the sole focus, and I don’t think that skiing should be the only focus. I think that all those things are things that made me who I am.”
We wish him the best of luck in PyeongChang.