'I'm Always at Fear of Outing Myself' Kenworthy Says
Gus Kenworthy, one of two openly-gay athletes to be the first to compete in the Winter Olympics, says just like Adam Rippon he has no desire to meet with Vice President Mike Pence during the Olympics. Pence is officially heading the U.S. delegation to the XXIII Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
"I think Iâ€™ve kind of made my opinion on the matter pretty clear," Kenworthy said on Sunday, as Towleroad reported. "I donâ€™t think that I have any inclination toward a meeting. It think that would be a much bigger distraction for me and right now, Iâ€™m just focusing on competing but Iâ€™m very excited to be here representing the US and the LGBT community."
Kenworthy said he was "very happy" to meet Adam Rippon, the other first openly-gay athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics, noting the two "got to hang out at opening ceremonies."
"I think heâ€™s just a tremendous guy," Kenworthy added. He had posted a series of photos to social media of the two Olympians, with one saying, "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."
If he ran into the Vice President, what would he do?
"I guess weâ€™ll see how I handle it. I think I have always been someone that has had to compartmentalize my life because I was in the closet and I'm always at fear of outing myself," Kenworthy noted. "I always had so much going on in my mind that I couldnâ€™t share it with anyone, so I actually feel, now that Iâ€™m out, I have less to compartmentalize.
"Iâ€™ve made it very clear who I am and I think I have taken a step into a sort of leadership role for the LGBT community because there isnâ€™t a ton of representation at the Games. Itâ€™s also just me and Iâ€™m just being myself so itâ€™s almost easier than ever to be here and be competing and just feel free and liberated. Iâ€™m excited for Adam and all the other out athletes here."
Rippon made headlines for days over the last week, when he told a USA Today reporter that Pence, as a Congressman, supported the funding of anti-gay, harmful conversion therapy. A reportedly outraged Pence tried to arrange a meeting with Rippon, but was rebuffed. Ripon said he did not want the distraction while competing at the Winter Olympics. He later said he would consider meeting with Pence, but after the games.
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