Openly gay athletes at the 2018 Olympic Games are becoming fan favourites.
When South Korean organizers failed to raise enough money to build a Pride House at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the Canadian Olympic Committee stepped in to help.
The first Pride House was created in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics as a safe place for LGBTQ+ athletes, fans and their allies from across the globe to gather.
And from photos available online, it looks like Pride House in PyeongChang is a big hit. Team Canada’s Eric Radford posted a selfie of himself and fiancé Spanish ice dancer Luis Fenero on Twitter Feb. 10 with the caption, “Was so nice to spend some time with this man at #canadahouse and #PrideHouse. #Olympics #pyeongchang2018 #pride #love #Fiancée.”
Also frequenting Pride House is Adam Rippon, who became the first openly gay man from the U.S. to win a Winter Olympic medal when he was awarded the bronze in the men’s free skate Feb. 11.
English figure skater John Curry won the gold medal at the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, but was outed by the media after having what he thought was an off-the-record conversation. Following that public outing, Curry faced more questions about his personal life than any of his athletic accomplishments. U.S. figure skater Brian Boitano won the gold in 1988, but didn’t publicly confirm he was gay for 25 years. Even the always over-the-top Jonny Weir didn’t officially come out until the year after he charmed the world at the 2010 Olympics.
But in 2018, there are 15 openly gay and lesbian athletes competing at the Winter Games — and they’re winning medals. Canadian figure skater Eric Radford became the first openly gay Winter Olympian to win a gold medal, while Dutch skater Ireen Wust won a gold in the 1,500 metres and a silver medal in the 3,000 metres, making her the most decorated Dutch Olympic athlete ever. Wust has eight medals and is openly bisexual.
It was freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy who broke the ice on opening day of the 2018 Olympic Games by posting a photo on Twitter stating, “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it.” But it was Rippon’s response to a question about what it’s like to be a gay athlete, that quickly made him an Olympic favourite.
“It’s exactly like being a straight athlete. Lots of hard work, but usually done with better eyebrows.”