In a heartfelt column for the The Players’ Tribune (which you should read in its entirety), Pip Kenworthy — mother of openly gay Olympic freestyle skiier Gus Kenworthy — wrote about the pride she feels for her son’s athletic and personal development, particularly how he achieved career success following a freak accident that killed his best friend and Gus’ subsequent coming out following his silver medal performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Her column starts with a memory of Gus disappearing from the family home at age two-and-a-half. After panicking, she discovered Gus had climbed a ladder to the second floor exterior of the family’s home.
“You were standing on the top rung with your rosy cheeks and your big smile, absolutely oblivious to the danger. I was terrified. It would have been a pretty big fall. I almost fainted.”
“You were beaming. Absolutely beaming,” she wrote. “You were always a daredevil…. That’s why all that you’ve accomplished isn’t surprising to me at all.”
Pip also wrote of a time when Gus witnessed his best friend Hoot get crushed to death under the tracks of a snowcat truck. Pip says that Hoot’s death was the catalyst for the beginning of Gus’s professional athletic career.
However, the heart of her column speaks about Gus’ harboring the secret of his homosexuality. She said Gus’ sweet sensitive and comforting nature as a child helped her realize he was gay, but that it breaks her heart to know that his gayness made him wish he’d died instead of Hoot.
“Now, I think those insecurities were what fueled you. Keeping this secret made you feel ashamed, made you feel like you didn’t matter — and that made you want to better than everybody,” Pip wrote.
He came out to her after a 2015 broken leg injury, and she realized his fear of coming out was due to possibly losing sponsorships and fans and being hated if he did.
He subsequently came out in a Sports Illustrated interview. Pip wrote, “Then there was nothing to hold you back. That was when you really became yourself. Now I see you as a more complete man. You have an edge because you’re passionate about what you’re doing, and there’s no weight holding you down anymore.”
Featured image via The Players’ Tribune