Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy gave his boyfriend a kiss before heading down the slopes at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Saturday, February 17 — and what was most likely a simple moment for them spoke volumes to others.
The athlete, 26, smooched his actor beau, Matthew Wilkas, ahead of his run in PyeongChang, South Korea, in a moment that was captured by NBC cameras and praised by many who are hailing the kiss as historic. While Kenworthy finished in 12th place, he won the hearts of millions for being part of the first same-sex kiss shown during the Olympics.
— Outsports (@outsports) February 18, 2018
The show of affection went viral almost immediately, with many people gushing over the couple on social media.
One Twitter user wrote, “That beautiful casual kiss between @guskenworthy and his boyfriend on @NBCOlympics — I’m old enough to understand how significant that is.”
— Emma Grant ⛷🏒🏂⛸ (@EmmaGrant_01) February 18, 2018
Another person wrote, “A kiss from his boyfriend from the top of the slope and a wave of rainbow flags at the bottom! Gus Kenworthy, you’re making so many LGBT Americans so very proud of you!!!”
A kiss from his boyfriend from the top of the slope and a wave of rainbow flags at the bottom! Gus Kenworthy, you're making so many LGBT Americans so very proud of you!!! 🏳️🌈🇺🇸 #Olympics #ItsGusBitch
— Rusty Hatchell (@rustyhatchell) February 18, 2018
“So much love for @guskenworthy and his partner for smashing down barriers and being the first same-sex couple to kiss live at the #WinterOlympics,” wrote another.
— Tom Knight (@TJ_Knight) February 18, 2018
One person simply stated, “Pretty cool that they not only showed Gus Kenworthy kiss his boyfriend, but acknowledge him as such. It shouldn’t feel like a big deal and yet it does.”
Pretty cool that they not only showed Gus Kenworthy kiss his boyfriend, but acknowledge him as such. It shouldn't feel like a big deal and yet it does.
— Scotty Ray (@ScottyRayJ) February 18, 2018
Kenworthy recently told Us Weekly that he and Wilkas got together after the freestyle skier messaged him on Instagram.“We’re great. We work through all of our issues, we talk, we have amazing communication. But it’s also like … It’s up and down,” he said. “I spend so much of my time on the road and traveling. We’ll go eight weeks without seeing each other. It’s a difficult relationship, but we work on it.”
The viral moment was probably most significant to Kenworthy: he has spoken about how he wanted to kiss his then-boyfriend at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, but couldn’t because he hadn’t revealed he was gay. He later came out in an ESPN interview in 2015. A month later, he started dating Wilkas.
Wilkas, for his part, knows the significance of having their kiss shared on national television, telling Time, “It’s good that it’s televised because it normalizes it more. 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.” He didn’t believe it was a big deal until he saw the reaction it got on Twitter, joking, “That was like a peck — we should have made out in front of people!”
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