In a historic first, NBC showed American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy kissing his boyfriend on live TV.
Kenworthy spotted his boyfriend, actor Matthew Wilkas, at the bottom of the hill before the ski slopestyle event and went to kiss him, unaware the cameras were rolling.
The moment, broadcast internationally, is momentous not just for the Olympics, but also for Kenworthy himself, who previously spoke about the difficulty of being closeted and gay at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
“To be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcast to the world, is incredible,” Kenworthy told reporters. “The only way to really change perceptions, to break down barriers, break down homophobia, is through representation. That’s definitely not something I had as a kid. I never saw a gay athlete kissing their boyfriend at the Olympics. I think if I had, it would’ve made it easier for me.”
In a tweet, he added that he didn’t realize the kiss was being filmed, but was “so happy that it was.”
“My childhood self would never have dreamed of seeing a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics,” Kenworthy wrote, “but for the first time ever a kid watching at home CAN!”
Didn’t realize this moment was being filmed yesterday but I’m so happy that it was. My childhood self would never have dreamed of seeing a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics but for the first time ever a kid watching at home CAN! Love is love is love. pic.twitter.com/8t0zHjgDg8
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 19, 2018
Four years ago, Kenworthy was a closeted skier at the Sochi Winter Olympics, where he took home a silver medal. He wanted to share a kiss with his then-boyfriend but was not ready for that to be his coming out moment. Now, in Korea representing America as one of the first openly gay winter Olympians, NBC showed Wilkas holding a rainbow flag for Kenworthy and an announcer said that Wilkas was his “boyfriend.”
“It was the tiniest kiss in the world,” Wilkas, who was unaware of the international popularity of their kiss, told reporters. “I could’ve made out with him had I known.”
Due to a broken thumb and complications with his hip, Kenworthy had a less than stellar showing in his slopestyle event, finishing last.
“I’m bummed but I’m not sulking I’m not crying,” he said, according to CNN. “I’m really proud to be here and being out at these Olympics has meant the world to me, just getting to be myself and be authentic.”
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