+3 votes
“You Were Lying With Your Head in My Lap and Said, ‘mum, You Know I’m Gay.’”
“You were lying with your head in my lap and said, ‘Mum, you know I’m gay.’”

"That was one of the first times I've seen you afraid.
You were frightened you might lose sponsors who didn’t want a gay athlete representing them.
You were afraid that maybe you’d lose fans."

This is Gus Kenworthy and his mom Pip.
Gus is about to become one of the first openly gay athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics as a freestyle skier.
And his mom wrote him a beautiful open letter.

It will take you about 90 seconds to read it.
I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Here’s what she said

Dear Gus,
You were always adventurous.
Always fearless.
You were always a daredevil.
You loved going fast.

You and your friends — you skied in a pack.
There were no coaches.
You taught each other.
Especially you and Hoot, your best friend.

By the time you were 14, you and your pack were already getting pretty well-known.
Then you did that photo shoot.
You were all riding on the snowcat, fooling around, hanging off it, seeing who could ride in the sketchiest spot.
And Hoot fell off and went under the snowcat’s tracks.

It was a devastating accident—a horrible thing for a young boy to experience.

To make matters worse, you were also carrying this secret inside you, one that made you feel so ashamed that you didn’t believe you mattered anymore.

It breaks my heart to know that now.

The secret was eating you from the inside and causing so much pain that you wished it had been you instead of Hoot who died on the mountain.

After that you began to take your career a lot more seriously.
Instead of letting that experience have a negative effect on your life, you turned it around and made something positive out of it.

You told your father and me that you wanted to really focus and compete at the highest level.

That was your dream, yours and Hoot’s.

You reached the top, of course.
And you took Hoot with you, spread some of his ashes at the start of a competition run in Aspen — just so he could be part of it all.

I thought you were happy and successful and on your way.
I didn’t know that you secretly felt so insecure and ashamed.
You had a quality the other boys didn’t have.
That’s why I think I pretty much knew.

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.

You were so competitive.
You hated to lose.
You beat yourself up when you didn’t win.
You were your own harshest critic.

You were very sensitive and very caring, too.
You were always concerned if anyone’s feelings were hurt. When your father and I divorced, you were always there for me. When I was crying, you would comfort me.

You had a quality the other boys didn’t have.
That’s why I think I pretty much knew.

It’s heartbreaking to know now how much you were hurting all that time.

I had no idea that the secret you held could make you think those dark thoughts, that you would think about driving off of a bridge.

Or that you wanted to kill yourself because you thought people would hate you if they knew the real you.

It makes me sad that hate can work on a person that way.
I feel guilty that I didn’t try to ask you earlier.
I should have talked to you.
Then you got hurt.

It was 2015, the year after your big breakout performance, the silver medal at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

A few weeks later you came crashing down.
You broke your leg and tore up your knee at the World Cup in France.

You were recovering in Denver and I had come to nurse you and take you to therapy.

You asked me if you could talk to me about something. You were lying with your head in my lap and said, “Mum, you know I’m gay.”

I said, “Yeah, well I think I did know that.”

You cried and hugged me and we talked about the world and why people would say that it was wrong?

I remember I told you then what I believe now—that any good person with a good heart wouldn’t care what your sexual preference is, as long as you’re not hurting anybody. Good people will accept you for who you are.

I knew you would go public.
I think you needed to get it off your chest.

But that was one of the first times I had ever seen you afraid of anything.

I realize now you’d felt fear before, but I hadn’t seen it.

Nothing ever seemed to scare you.
But you were afraid of hate.

You were frightened you might lose sponsors who didn’t want a gay athlete representing them.

You were afraid that maybe you’d lose fans, that people would never throw a parade for you and stand on the street and cheer, like they had done in Telluride when you came home from Sochi.

You were afraid that if you told the world, people would hate you because of who you are.

You did it anyway.
So tough. So fearless.

You did the interview with the national magazine and then your secret wasn’t secret. You told the world who you were, and you saw the amazing reaction and support and love from your fans.

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 posed on the cover of a magazine with your boyfriend. You took off all your clothes.
I thought that was fantastic.
You were letting the world see every bit of who you are.

I see that you have more confidence, more inner strength, even though there’s more pressure now.
Even though you’re in the spotlight.

The world is watching you.
It’s a tough position to be in.
You’ve got an audience now, so you have to really think about what you say and do.
But you do that.
You take it so seriously, and that makes me proud.

You’ve also given me so much.

I want to thank you for always being there for me. For being sensitive and kind.

For being a wonderful son.

You’ve given me more than I think I could ever have given you.

I always told you to follow your heart with passion. You did it. You still do. I love you for that.

Thank you, Gus, for being you — and for letting all of us see all of you.

Credits: Pip Kenworthy
728 views Feb 11, 2018

Please log in or register to Comment this Media.