Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rippon and Kenworthy make history in Pyeongchang




Rippon and Kenworthy make history in Pyeongchang

Rippon and Kenworthy make history in Pyeongchang

Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy will have groundbreaking performances at Pyeongchang no matter how they perform, being the first openly gay US men competing at a Winter Olympics.

British-born Kenworthy will try to improve upon the freestyle skiing slopestyle silver medal he won in 2014 at Sochi, while figure skater Rippon, the 2016 US men’s champion, competes in his first Olympics.

Both went public with their homosexuality in October 2015, and both felt better for it.

“When I came out I was scared of losing sponsors and losing fanbase,” Kenworthy said. “It has been just the opposite.”

Rippon, 28, said he found it liberating to reveal his most personal secret, reviving his passion for skating.

“When I came out was when I was able to breathe,” Rippon said. “When everyone knew, I didn’t feel like I was hiding anything.”

Rippon has attacked US Vice President Mike Pence, the official US delegation leader, for allegedly backing gay conversion therapy – an accusation Pence denies.

“I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” Rippon told USA Today last month.

According to US media, Pence also denied a separate USA Today report Thursday saying he reached out for a conversation with Rippon in Pyeongchang and was rejected.

‘More marketable now’

Kenworthy, 26, recalled his worries before coming out in a magazine article.

“That was a scary time but it was something I wanted to do. I didn’t sleep the night before the magazine came out,” he said.

Kenworthy recalled his fingers trembling as he sent the news to his Twitter followers.

“I was so scared,” he said. “As soon as I posted it I had likes coming back. I had guys on my own team calling me, guys who called me ‘faggot’ were calling and apologizing. A world had lifted.

“I was ready for the worst-case scenario. I saw the opposite impact right away.”

For one thing, his skiing improved with one less secret on his mind.

“I don’t know if it was because I was in the closet but it was ever-present in my mind and it took me out of my moment,” Kenworthy said. “My abilities hadn’t changed. And I was able to ski better.”

And the sponsors he feared might shun him instead embraced him.

“Products are looking for diversity. If I had known that it would have given me so much hope and saved me so much heartache,” Kenworthy said. “I’m more marketable now that I’m out there. I’m glad they are embracing diversity.”

That’s not to say his revelation was without haters and social media trolls.

“There was hate for sure and scorn online,” Kenworthy said. “I still get messages every day.”

Rippon, twice a world junior champion, said on Twitter that being a gay athlete “is exactly like being a straight athlete. Lots of hard work, but usually done with better eyebrows”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hungarian exposes 90 to Covid in Siem Reap

    The Ministry of Health has discovered 90 people who have been exposed directly or indirectly to a Hungarian man infected with Covid-19. They all are required to quarantine at home and the hospital. The ministry is searching for other affected people. Among the 90, one is the

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring

  • PM warns of ‘new Cold War’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the possibility of a so-called new Cold War has become a significant concern and that all countries have to reject outright, any attempt to allow history to tragically repeat itself. He made the remarks in a speech during 75th Session

  • ‘Bad news is an investor’s best friend’ – unlocking investment potential in Cambodia

    It is time to shop. Economic woes provide good pickings for investors if they know where to look The poem If, written by English Nobel laureate poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling for his son circa 1895, is widely perceived as fatherly advice for John who would

  • PM requests Russia’s Covid vaccine

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that Russia provide Cambodia with its Covid-19 vaccine after the former announced it planned on mass vaccinating its population next month. The request came on Thursday through the prime minister’s Facebook page as he met with Anatoly Borovik,

  • First ‘mobile kitchen’ in Cambodia enters service

    A catering company recently rolled out Cambodia’s first “mobile kitchen” – a $50,000 container capable of serving up to 200 people at a time. The kitchen is the brainchild of Seng Hok Heng Catering Services. At 4.4m-high, 6.8m-long and 2.4m-wide (expandable to 6.8m), the kitchen is equipped