The Effects of Hegemonic Masculinity during the 2018 Winter Olympics




 With the Winter Olympics concluding within the past month a lot of the olympian spotlight was focused on the LGBTQ athletes that particapted in Pyeongchang. Fifteen openly gay or bisexual athletes competed this year. This marks a historic change in momentum for the acceptance of openly gay or bisexual athletes. Out of those fifteen athletes four were men. Fortunately, even though only 25% of the athletes were men; these were the first ever men to compete as openly gay males. We believe platforms are being created for these men on a foundation that was built by brave openly gay and bisexual women before them. We argue that the presence of hegemonic masculinity is becoming less of a pressing issue within the Olympics, or at least this was the situation within Pyeongchang (Calzo and Ward 2009). Olympians that have previously come out as gay, or came out during this years games did not receive as much negative backlash as we believe they would have in the past. There was a lot of support from both the LGBTQ community, and from fans that identify as straight. The spotlight was on current athletes like Adam Rippon, Gus Kenworthy, Eric Radford, and past athlete Johnny Weir who was hired by NBC to help cover the Olympics.

Gus and his Boyfriend
The Guardian

     This is a photo of Gus Kenworthy kissing his boyfriend after a run on the slopes. After this was broadcasted twitter blew up with commentary, most good. One tweet said “This may seem like such a small normal thing to do, but to see people in your LGBTQ+ community  being able to do this openly and freely.. well there is nothing like it. #RepresentationMattersLots of others from the LGBTQ community wrote loving, supportive commentary. This photo captures not only a couple kissing, but a start of an accepting culture.


Adam Rippon

Adam Rippon made history by being the first openly gay athlete in winter Olympic history. A lot of history was made this past year, with Adam leading the revolution. He also refused a visit to the White House for a reception after the Olympics. While this received backlash from republicans, a lot of people in the LGBTQ community will admire this stance.


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     The Olympics were heavily covered in the media by commentators, fans, and even the competitors. Gus could be considered a hero to younger boys who receive backlash for expressing their sexuality. He is such a positive role model who is achieving his dreams, and not allowing negativity stand in his way. According to Gus’ friend, Adam, they became fast friends while competing amongst each other. Together they are showing the world what it looks like for LGBTQ to be accepted and rise to the top.

Out Sports

     One of the byproducts of athletes coming out as LGBTQ is that they inspire those people still wrestling with their sexual orientation. Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy were used by other non-openly gay athletes and coaches as confidants and both of the men were praised for their bravery. Specifically, two athletes and two coaches came to Adam and Gus and confided in them about how they both have given them the confidence that one day soon they believe they can come out as gay and play and coach without judgement.

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Pop Sugar

Society has no choice but to accept that the LGBTQ community is succeeding in all aspects, especially dominating the Olympics. Eric Radford is first openly gay gold medalist who inspires the LGBTQ community by making history. This is even more incredible with the fact that this Olympics had the biggest number of out Olympians. To have a gold medalist represent the LGBTQ for the first time is groundbreaking, inspiring, and a start to a beautiful revolution of acceptance. When people like Eric get such an honorary spotlight award, it shuts some of the backlash down by revealing many fans and supporters of this community (Witeck 2014). 

<> at Bryant Park on December 1, 2017 in New York City.
Huffington Post

The one athlete that we are going to talk about that does not compete anymore is two-time olympic athlete Johnny Weir. Weir, endured media scrutiny over his private life during the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games. Many of his performances brought upon suspicions of his sexuality especially his olympic routine to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”.

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Huffington Post


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Although Weir did not come out as gay while he was competing, he released a series of very powerful tweets commenting on this years olympics and his experiences when dealing with his openness about his own sexuality.  As you can see Weir’s words come from a very open place emotionally speaking and the fact that he did not need to share his sexuality prior to his professional career as an athlete does not mean he was scared of what people would say or think but simply because he was comfortable with it the entire time. A note that needs to be made is that Weir was fortunate enough to grow up in an environment where his personality and sexuality were never used against him.

This is not always the case for coaches and athletes. This younger generation of athletes and coaches are growing up in countries where gay marriage was just legalized only a few years ago or still not legal today. This environment that has controlled what is right vs what is wrong through social constructs like hegemonic masculinity is what keeps a lot of people in secret about their sexuality. However, Athletes like Adam Rippon, Gus Kenworthy, Eric Radford and Johnny Weir are blazing a trail for future Olympic athletes.


Works Cited

Freeman, H. (2018, February 21). Gay men are winning this year’s Winter Olympics – and making it a joy to watch.

Moran, L. (2018, February 20). Gus Kenworthy Kissed His Boyfriend On TV And Melted All The Ice At The Olympics.

Buzinski, J. (2018, February 27). 2 gay Olympians, 2 coaches came out to Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy.

Wong, C. M. (2018, January 18). Johnny Weir Explains Why He Waited To Publicly Come Out As Gay.

Witeck, B. (2014). Cultural change in acceptance of LGBT people: Lessons from social marketing. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 84(1), 19-22.

Jerel P. Calzo M.A. & L. Monique Ward Ph.D. (2009) Media Exposure and Viewers’ Attitudes Toward Homosexuality: Evidence for Mainstreaming or Resonance?

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