Olympian Gus Kenworthy shared some of his worst hate mail and made a powerful point.
Homophobia is very, very real.
If you've ever wondered why gay people keep "shoving their sexuality down your throat" (which sounds a bit, uh, sexual in itself?), Olympian Gus Kenworthy has a tweet you might want to see.
Kenworthy, a skiier, is fresh off the games in Pyeongchang, where he and figure skating sensation Adam Rippon made history as some of the first openly gay members of Team USA's Olympic squad (Kenworthy won a silver medal during the 2014 Sochi games, but wasn't out as gay just yet).
Like a lot of Olympic athletes, Kenworthy posted a lot of photos to his social media accounts during his downtime — and yes, some mentioned that he was happy he could represent America as himself. It was pretty sweet!
As one might expect, this led some people to ask him to tone it down, often employing the classic "nobody cares if you're gay" reason.
"There's really no need to ram it down everyone's throat at every opportunity," wrote one person on Twitter. Interestingly, none of the accounts chiding him for posting a photo with his boyfriend or cheering on Rippon had sent similar "nobody cares if you're straight" tweets to straight athletes posting about their significant others or family. It's almost if people do care that he's gay.
Images via Twitter.
On Feb. 27, he decided to share a few comments from his YouTube page that kind of put an end to the "homophobia doesn't exist anymore" narrative.
"Gross faggot. Fuck you. Go die of AIDS. Sodom and Gomorrah will return. Sick nasty pedo-fag," wrote a user going by the name of Robert Miller. "Gus you are nothing but a sperm drinking, ass fucking FAG — a fucking FREAK of nature, hurry and get AIDS," wrote a user going by Floyd Schott. Yikes!
Lest you think these were just isolated comments, a quick glance at his Twitter mentions proves otherwise.
Kenworthy earned the ire of a small legion of Donald Trump supporters when he tweeted a few jokes aimed at the administration:
"So proud of all these people!" he tweeted, sharing a photo of Team USA. "Everybody here has worked so hard to make it to the Olympics and have the opportunity to walk in the closing ceremony! Well ... Everyone except Ivanka. Honestly, tf is she doing here??"
After the Olympic Athletes from Russia took home the gold medal in men's hockey, he tweeted, "Russia's biggest win since the 2016 US Presidential election!"
When he broke his thumb practicing, he joked that it'd prevent him from shaking Mike Pence's hand, and that was a silver lining.
Some Trump supporters were upset by those comments, even though they were pretty tame. Several responded with anti-gay slurs. A closer look shows that the slurs — many of which called him mentally ill, wished death on him, hoped he would get AIDS, etc. — began long before he ever uttered a word about the administration.
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images. Images via Twitter.
Still, it did spark a lot of outrage among Trump's supporters, and resulted in some unintentionally hilarious tweets. For example, one Twitter user came to the defense of the president's LGBTQ bonafides by saying Trump had the "most fag friendly policies from a president to ever enter the White House."
First of all, no, Donald Trump is not LGBTQ-friendly by any stretch of the imagination. His administration has argued that it should be legal to fire someone for being gay, he fired the entire White House HIV/AIDS council, and he's still in the process of trying to kick trans people out of the military. He is objectively bad on LGBTQ issues, and you can hardly blame Kenworthy or anyone else for being a little salty about it.
Image via Twitter.
Beyond that, though, the comment really highlights the lengths people will go to convince themselves that homophobia is a thing of the past, and that LGBTQ people are the oppressors forcing their views on others. The truth is, as long as being able to live one's life, to post a photo on social media kissing your boyfriend, or even just to mention that you're gay, or bi, or trans without getting a boatload of hate in response, the "Nobody cares if you're gay" comments are just flat-out wrong.
It would be great if "nobody cared" about someone else's sexual orientation or gender identity, but the truth is that these issues still matter a whole lot. It took until 2018 that a U.S. Olympic athlete felt safe and comfortable enough to be open about who they are. That is worth celebrating, and people do care. Because they care, it's important that people like Kenworthy continue to stand up and make themselves heard.