Twenty years ago, it may not have been broadcast, but in 2018 a televised kiss is sending an important message to LGBTQ youth around the world.
On Sunday, after American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy completed his slopestyle qualifying run at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, NBC cameras captured his embrace of boyfriend Matthew Wilkas. While Kenworthy said he didn’t notice the cameras at the time, he later tweeted out a powerful message about the kiss and what it says about the importance of representation.
Didn't realize this moment was being filmed yesterday but I'm so happy that it was. My childhood self would never have dreamed of seeing a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics but for the first time ever a kid watching at home CAN! Love is love is love. pic.twitter.com/8t0zHjgDg8— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 19, 2018
“Didn't realize this moment was being filmed yesterday but I'm so happy that it was,” Kenworthy wrote on Twitter. “My childhood self would never have dreamed of seeing a gay kiss on TV at the Olympics but for the first time ever a kid watching at home CAN! Love is love is love.”
Kenworthy, who came out as gay in a 2015 interview with ESPN Magazine, has become a strong voice for people who are marginalized on account of their sexual identity and orientation.
Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number 10: reduced inequalities. In order to achieve this, it is important to increase political, social, and other representation for minority groups like the LGBTQ community, which is discriminated against by law in more than 75 countries around the world, according to the UN.
According to statistics from the Williams Institute, at the University of California Los Angeles, LGBT couples are more likely than same-sex couples to live in poverty — often because of systemic factors of discrimination, as well as racial and gender stereotypes.
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The Olympics, which this year feature athletes from more than 90 countries, are expected to be viewed by an estimated 5 billion people, according to the Korea Herald, and NBC, which is broadcast in homes across the United States, will show over 2,400 hours of coverage.
But it was this one small moment that captured hearts and minds across the internet after Kenworthy posted it on social media.
Although Kenworthy’s activism on Sunday may have been unintentional, the athlete has also tweeted at US Vice President Mike Pence, who has said gay couples are a sign of “societal collapse,” and has spoken out publicly about LGBT issues on numerous occasions.
“I think that the only way to really change perceptions, break down homophobia, break down barriers is through representation,” Kenworthy told Reuters of the kiss. “That’s definitely not something I had as a kid.”