NBC aired footage of Kenworthy kissing Matthew Wilkas shortly before a qualifying run in Sunday’s slopestyle event in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
It was well-received on Twitter:
Kenworthy, 26, came out in 2015 and is one of two openly gay men competing for Team USA at the games. He scooped silver in the same event at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and had planned to kiss his then-boyfriend in similar style. He ultimately decided against doing so.
In Pyeongchang, Kenworthy placed 12th in the final. Norway’s Oystein Braaten won gold and Team USA’s Nick Goepper nabbed silver.
After competing, Kenworthy said he hadn’t realized his smooch was being aired.
“But I think that’s amazing, that’s something that I wanted at the last Olympics was to share a kiss with my boyfriend at the bottom but I was too scared to do it for myself,” he said, per Reuters. “So to be able to do that to give him a kiss, to have that affection broadcast for the world is incredible.”
Kenworthy said “the only way to change perceptions, break down homophobia, break down barriers is through representation and that’s definitely not something I had as a kid.”
“I definitely didn’t see a gay athlete at the Olympics kissing their boyfriend and I think if I had it would have made it a lot easier for me,” he said.
Wilkas, meanwhile, described the smooch as “such a little kiss.”
“If I’d have known it was a big deal, I’d have made out with him,” he joked to the Associated Press.
Kenworthy, who some folks online believe is a dead ringer for “Game of Thrones” actor Richard Madden (aka Robb Stark), spoke out before the games about Vice President Mike Pence being a “strange choice” to lead the U.S. delegation at the opening ceremony.
After breaking his thumb in practice Wednesday, Kenworthy joked the “silver lining” was he wouldn’t have to shake the hand of Pence, who has been forthright with his resistance to LGBTQ rights.