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    Winter Olympics 2018 Takes LGBT Sports Movement to the Next Level

    By Tom Temprano–

    I’m about as much of a temperate-weather loving California native as there is. Having grown up in sunny SoCal and spent my whole adult life in San Francisco, I’ve only been in active snowfall a half-dozen times. Winter to me means lows in the 50s, a handful of days of rain, and that’s about it.

    Perhaps that’s why, despite being a lifelong sports fan, I’ve never really understood the appeal of the Winter Olympics. They just seemed so … cold and un-relatable to someone who couldn’t stand up on skates or make it ten feet on a pair of skis if their life depended on it.

    To be honest, I didn’t even know that they were happening this year until mid-January. This makes the last couple weeks all the more astonishing. I’ve gone from a total ignorance of the games to complete obsession because of two athletes: Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy.

    As I’m sure you know by now, Adam and Gus are two of the out LGBTQ athletes competing for the United States in PyeongChang, South Korea. Though they’ll only go home with one medal between them, both of them have accomplished something rare if not unprecedented in sports—they’ve won the hearts, minds and loyalty of millions and millions of fans by being 100% out and 100% themselves.

    Gus made headlines and wooed the internet with the seen-round-the-world kiss he planted on his boyfriend’s lips in front of NBC cameras, a first of its kind moment in any Olympic games. For those of us who follow him on social media, we’ve also seen nearly daily posts of him celebrating his queerness. Those have been as inspiring as anything we’ve seen on the slopes.

    Adam has fulfilled his self-prophecy of becoming America’s sweetheart faster and more thoroughly than anyone would have thought possible. Though his pre-Olympic feud with Vice President Pence elevated his name prior to the games, his performance on and off the ice is what has now made him a household name. From blowing kisses to the judges to choosing a gay club jam to skate to, he has been completely queer and completely himself from the moment he set foot in South Korea.

    I’ve gotten emotional watching them on TV these past two weeks because I see some part of myself on screen with them. Even more than that, I get emotional when I imagine the millions of little queer kids across the country sitting in front of their TVs watching them too and feeling like—despite what some kids say at school, or what someone in their family might say—that who they are is not just OK, but something to be celebrated.

    Watching an unabashedly out superstar twirling his way to fame and glory, and watching a burly guy kiss his partner in a moment of triumph, validates each of us queer people and has made these Olympic games something truly special.

    Tom Temprano was elected to the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees in 2016, making him the city’s youngest elected official. He also owns Virgil’s Sea Room, a small business in the Mission District, and is a member of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center Board of Directors. Follow him on social media at &