Watch: Gus Kenworthy Helps College Student Come Out to His Parents

Coming out is easier with emotional support from an Olympic athlete.

Coming out can be an overwhelming prospect, but it’s easier when you’ve got an Olympian in your corner.

College student John, 20, found that out firsthand thanks to activist and model Ashley Graham, whose Ellen Tube web series Fearless set him up with a surprise pep talk with Gus Kenworthy before he steadied himself to tell his parents that he’s gay.

As John explained to Graham, he had already come out to friends, starting shortly after graduating from high school, but hiding his true identity from his parents was eating away at him more and more.

“I don’t know what it’s like to come out, at all, but I have friends who have told me it’s one of the hardest things that they’ve ever had to do,” Graham said, before revealing that one of those friends was there to lend emotional support.

“He’s an Olympian athlete who came out on the cover of a magazine, and I think he’s gonna be able to give you some perspective and guidance,” she added, before introducing Kenworthy, much to John’s surprise and excitement.

“I was so nervous. I didn’t sleep the night before. I knew that in a way, nothing was going to change, and at the exact same time, everything was about to change,” the skier shared of his journey. “And then when I actually came out, it was so positive. The reaction was amazing, and I think it’s going to be the exact same for you.”

Finally, it was the moment of truth, with Kenworthy and Graham stepping aside to give John some space to make the long-awaited call to his parents.

John admitted he had no idea what he was going to say, but he handled it with directness and grace.

“I’m must calling to tell you something that you maybe already know, but I am out here in L.A. to come out to you guys. And, I’m gay,” he said.

Both of his parents responded with nothing but acceptance, telling him they loved him “100%.”

“Did you know?” he asked.

“There was maybe a little part of me that thought, maybe, but I really didn’t care. I love you for who you are, and it never would even be a factor for me,” his mom told him, with his dad agreeing.

Graham and Kenworthy rushed over to give him a hug after he hung up, before Graham revealed there was yet another surprise: John’s parents had been flown out to be there with him as well.

Not only that, they are all going to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show soon.

Kenworthy also had a message for anyone watching who is likewise struggling to come out of the closet.

“You are valid, you are seen, you are heard, you are loved. It can be really scary thinking about taking that step and revealing who you are, and being so transparent with the world, but you’re going to be so much happier for it,” he said.

“And you living your life authentically and unapologetically is going to make it that much easier for other people to do the same.”

 

Journalist, editor, and artist.