Pop Goes The News — When U.S. Olympian Gus Kenworthy started coming out as gay to his fellow freestyle skiers earlier this year, supporters included Canadian competitor Justin Dorey.
According to ESPN The Magazine, Dorey told Kenworthy to live openly.
“Our sport needs this,” Dorey told Kenworthy. “Action sports needs this. More people than you think will be supportive.”
Corey, the 27-year-old Calgary native who represented Canada at the halfpipe event at the 2014 Winter Olympics, told ESPN The Magazine that gay slurs are “thrown around like crazy” in the testosterone-fueled extreme sports community.
“A lot of people don’t think twice about it because those words don’t mean anything to them,” he said.
Dorey doesn’t believe Kenworthy is the first gay action sports athlete. “Gus being the first to step up, come out and take the heat, it’s badass.”
On Thursday, Dorey tweeted: “Proud of my dude. Be yourself.”
Kenworthy, who won the silver medal in freestyle skiing at Sochi, opened up about his sexuality in an interview for the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine.
The 24-year-old British-born athlete said he knew he was gay as young as 5 years old and felt “insecure and ashamed.” Later, he had sex with girls “and then cry about it afterward.
“I’m like, ‘What am I doing? I don’t know what I’m doing.’”
MORE: Survey finds half of young adults in Britain not 100% straight
On Thursday, Kenworthy posted a message on his Facebook page that began with: “I am gay. Wow, it feels good to write those words.”
He said the “pain of holding onto the lie is greater than the fear of letting go, and I’m very proud to finally be letting my guard down.”
Kenworthy admitted he has struggled to come to terms with his sexuality. “I pushed my feelings away in the hopes that it was a passing phase but the thought of being found out kept me up at night.”
He admitted to feeling depressed and suicidal.
“For so much of my life I’ve dreaded the day that people would find out I was gay,” wrote Kenworthy. “Now, I couldn’t be more excited to tell you all the truth.”
He urged young people struggling with sexuality to understand “there’s nothing cooler than being yourself and embracing the things that make you unique.”
Support is pouring in for Kenworthy, including from famous friend Miley Cyrus.
“Never have I ever been prouder to call @guskenworthy my friend! (and he’s a bad ass f**king Olympic athlete),” Cyrus wrote on Instagram.
“He is showing all of us what it means to be courageous and PROUD of who we are! You have won so much more than any medal …. You have won FREEDOM!”
On Facebook, Kenworthy wrote: “I am truly blown away by the amount of love and support that I’ve been receiving! Thank you all so much for your kind words, I’ve never felt happier to be me!”
In his ESPN The Magazine interview, he admitted he’s nervous about losing valuable sponsorships. “The industry isn’t the most embracing of someone who’s different,” he said.
But Kenworthy said he wants “to be the guy who comes out, wins shit and is like, I’m taking names.”
All photos via instagram.com/guskenworthy/