The Challenge: Champs vs. Props is a special six-week series pitting previous Challenge winners against professional athletes—testing their agility, brawn, brains and guts.
Out Olympian Gus Kenworthy is one one of the pro contestants featured in the series and, in a new clip, he gets emotional recalling lying about his sexuality while being a professional skier.
“I just always thought my life as a skier and as a gay man couldn’t co-exist,” he tells former Challenge champion Cara Maria. “The pain of holding onto this lie and the pain of being in the closet was greater than the fear of coming out.”
Once Kenworthy decided to come out, he says he was surprised how supportive sponsors were and how the following year was actually his best year skiing competitively.
“I just hope that my story can be a beacon of light for other people that are in the closet and just let people know that the best way you can live is authentically and genuinely and everyone deserves to be happy,” he says in the clip.
Kenworthy came out in a 2015 ESPN interview, revealing he knew he was gay as early as 5-years-old, well before he started competing at age 15. Even when he had a boyfriend in the crowd cheering him on, though, Kenworthy kept silent.
“I don’t want to make skiing less cool. I hear the snowboarders call us ’skier fags,’ And it’s frustrating because I’m literally going to live up to that stereotype,” Kenworthy said when he came out. “I want to be the guy who comes out, wins shit and is like, ’I’m taking names.’”
Watch the emotional clip below and see if Kenworthy goes all the way in The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros, airing Tuesdays at 9/8c on MTV.