Gus Kenworthy just competed in his first X Games event since coming out as gay last year, but it was the fact that his boyfriend, actor Matthew Wilkas, was shown on ESPN cheering him on that made it such a historic moment.
That’s because it was the first time that the network ever identified a male competitor’s boyfriend on the screen.
“You have a lot of support down here,” a reporter told Kenworthy. “This is a pretty historic night.”
The skier later spoke with Rolling Stone to explain why the simple act was such a big deal.
“Yeah, the TV boyfriend thing sounds weird, I know. But everyone I looked up to growing up, they would show their girlfriend on TV – you know, Simon Dumont’s girlfriend, or Tanner Hall’s girlfriend, or whatever.
I was just kind of bummed that it was something that I’d never have. I felt like I was never going to be confident and authentic and introduce someone as my boyfriend to the reporters and have him on TV.
It was really special to want to do that and be happy about it. It was amazing. I looked up at the screen and saw Matt at the bottom. And it was touching being there with my mom, my boyfriend and my agent – my little support team.”