US freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy has made history, being captured on television kissing his partner before competing at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
The moment was screened around the world, with commentators acknowledging Matt Wilkas as Kenworthy’s boyfriend and showing supporters waving rainbow flags, Gay Star News has reported.
“To be able to do that, to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcast to the world, is incredible,” said Kenworthy after the event.
“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.”
Wilkas said he was happy to see gay relationships like theirs treated as normal.
“It’s good that it’s televised because it normalises it more,” Wilkas said.
“I would imagine it would be a huge moment for a young gay kid to see an awesome athlete so open and proud of himself and not caring what anyone thinks of his sexuality.”
Pyeongchang is Kenworthy’s second Winter Olympics, and his first as an openly gay athlete.
He said he felt “horrible” about being closeted at the Sochi Games in Russia in 2014.
Ahead of this year’s Games, Kenworthy used social media to thank his partner and family for their support.
“Win or lose I just wanna thank you all so much for your support and encouragement,” he tweeted.
“I wouldn’t be here without you.”
Jess Jones | Star Observer