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Winter Olympics 2018: How gay love melted countless hearts in PyeongChang

Sohinee Basu
389   //    18 Feb 2018, 18:59 IST

Freestyle Skiing - Winter Olympics Day 9
Gus Kenworthy during his performance

Amidst the ice-clad setting of the Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, love decided to glide in and thaw countless hearts. Right before the beginning of Sunday morning's ski slopestyle qualifier, British-born American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy shared a moment of affection as he tenderly kissed his long-time boyfriend Matthew Wilkas at the bottom of the hill.

Unknown to the openly gay duo, this otherwise hush-hush act was celebrated and broadcasted on primetime television by NBC. This little clip of the two of them kissing immediately went viral as LGBTQ activists observed this as a marvellous step towards progress and lauded the NBC broadcasters for choosing to showcase an act of genuine love. 

Kenworthy had been nursing a broken thumb and had experienced severe blood loss from the hematoma on his hip during training on Thursday. Despite these odds, he had emerged as one of the eight skiers to obtain a 90 or more to qualify for the finals on Sunday. However, luck wasn't on the British-American's side as he finished last among all the 12 finalists, failing to land any of his three runs. 

But they do say there is always a silver lining to every gloomy cloud that lurks, don't they? Kenworthy, who had experienced a very tough phase deciding to come out three years ago, was quite happy when he realised that the kiss between him and Wilkas had been broadcasted.

He reflected on the results of the day and said, "It wasn't the sports result I was hoping for but I'm very proud to be representing the LGBTQ community and happy to be here with other athletes who also are." 

For Kenworthy and everyone else out there who are afraid of being ridiculed and ostracized for their sexual orientation, their choices to love someone who society was never willing to approve of, it is a great day indeed.

Kenworthy and Wilkas, through this little act, has managed to win so many more battles beyond the ice slopes today. What may have been a professional disappointment for the 26-year-old seasoned skier, who had won the silver in the same event some four years ago when the world was yet to know of his 'authentic' self, turned out to be a major personal victory.

After his loss, he said, "I'm bummed but I'm not sulking, I'm not crying...I'm really proud to be here. Being out at this Games has kind of meant the world to me."

There cannot be anything greater than having the full support of your loved ones beside you. It's also when your personal choices get honoured and celebrated by the world that you truly win. That win is more precious and cherished than a gold medal.

The LGBTQ fraternity has been fighting a long battle trying to get their voices heard and certain basic rights awarded to them. This is a moment of celebration for the gay community all over the world.

Twitter was ablaze with reactions:

Even, Britney Spears took to Twitter to send her love to this adorable couple of Kenworthy-Wilkas too.

After being lauded by social media and the press, Wilkas joked that if such a minor show of passion like a 'little kiss' could provoke such major celebrations and be "a big deal, (then) I'd have made out with him."

The tremendous courage that takes for someone to come out and reveal their 'authentic' self and be proud of it is unparalleled. Especially in the field of Winter Olympics where taboos do their rounds but in the end it takes nothing short of sheer bravado to race down terrifying slopes and inch closer to victory consciously ignorant of your sexual orientation et al.

To see love like this being lauded and talked about is something which melts our heart and fills it with pride and hope for a better tomorrow where more of such actions won't have to cower behind veils but learn to lift it and unfearingly face the world for who they are and what they are.

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Sohinee Basu
I am this teeny-tiny adult kid with a horrible obsession of poetry and words. It will be too less to say that I love everything about tennis and a certain Roger Federer also! I love everything from the smell of old books to the thrill of watching tight matches!
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