Many athletes openly live out their homosexuality at the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. Some of them are still being hostile to this.
Pyeongchang – Gus Kenworthy called it “Silver linings”, a silver lining on the horizon. After breaking his thumb, he could very well participate in the freestyle competitions of the Olympic Games, the openly homosexual American announced on Twitter. “He’s keeping me from shaking hands with Mike Pence.”
That was at least as important – Kenworthy and his US buddy Adam Rippon, also openly gay, figure skaters, consider their vice president homophobic. Accordingly, Rippon effectively refused to meet Donald Trump’s deputy during a visit to the opening ceremony. The Evangelical Republican once wanted to enact a law in Indiana that would allow shop and restaurant owners to refuse to serve homosexuals.
Protests against discrimination in advance
Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy should shake hands with someone like that? Why? No, no way! On Twitter both wrote under a common photo: “We are here. We’re gay. Deal with it!” Kenworthy kissed Rippon on the cheek. If you stand in the wind, your hair will fly backwards. After a remark that the pence feud should not outshine his Olympic appearance, Donald Trump jr. wrote to Rippon: “Really now? Then you shouldn’t have spent the last few weeks just talking about him.”
Rippon took it easy: He feels free. This also applies to Jorik Hendrickx. The Belgian figure skater was already in Sochi in 2014. His circle of friends and family knew long ago. But Russia? It was too hot a Band-Aid for him.
There had been protests against discrimination through an anti-homosexual law. “There I still avoided questions in this direction,” the 25-year-old told the “LGBT” portal Outsport. LGBT is the English acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Hendrickx: “I just wasn’t ready then.” He had his coming-out one week before the games started.
“We’re a happy family at Olympia”
Hendrickx had to emphasize what was to be taken for granted. “The athlete’s sexual orientation is irrelevant. “There’s no difference whether you’re a straight or a homosexual athlete.” But it remains a taboo. “We should be much more open about this. I hope to inspire the next generation to feel more comfortable with their sexual orientation.” Whichever it is, “We’re a happy family at Olympia.”
She’s meeting at the Pride House. Canada opened a place of encounter in Pyeongchang, as it did in Vancouver eight years ago, where gender, origin and sexual preferences play no role whatsoever. “This is your house. Wherever you come from, who you are, who you love,” says the entrance. The ticket is respect.
How fitting that it was a Canadian who now wrote history in South Korea: Eric Radford was the first openly to win gay gold at Winter Games. “I feel like I’m bursting with pride,” he said after winning the figure skating team competition. The liberation from repression and hostility can also be felt elsewhere. The rainbow flag hangs in the ice rink.
No more hide-and-seek is necessary in 2018
Freestyler Gus Kenworthy had even considered creating a spectacular moment in 2014: He was wondering if he shouldn’t go to his friend’s compound to kiss him. The whole world could see it. But he decided against it. “It wouldn’t have been just a shock to Olympia,” he says. “My family would have thought: What the hell???”
Four years later, finally, no more hide-and-seek is necessary. In the past, this could have had terrible consequences. Otto Peltzer is considered to be the first Olympian to be said to have loved men: in 1928, years later, the German middle-distance racer was arrested by the Gestapo as a “pest of the people”. He survived the Mauthausen concentration camp, but remained marginalized in Germany.