Gus Kenworthy Says It's 'Amazing' to See 'More Queer Representation' at the Olympic Games

"I think it is just a really exciting thing for the sports world, and also for the queer community and for kids in sports watching," freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy tells PEOPLE

Gus Kenworthy attends the LA Special Screening of Apple TV+'s "Visible: Out On Television" at The West Hollywood EDITION on February 25, 2020 in West Hollywood, California.
Photo: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty

Gus Kenworthy is speaking candidly about what it's like to see more representation for the LGBTQ+ community at the Olympic Games.

While recently chatting with PEOPLE about partnering with Masters, a new app that lets users train with some of the world's most accomplished athletes, the 30-year-old freestyle skier also opens up about progress that has been made for the queer community in sports.

Noting that he does feel as though "there is more that needs to be done" in creating an equal playing field for LGBTQ+ athletes, Kenworthy tells PEOPLE exclusively, "I think that there's been tremendous strides."

"In 2018, Adam Rippon and I were the first two openly gay men to compete for the U.S. in the Winter Olympics, which is crazy because it doesn't seem like that long ago. But no one had competed out at a Winter Olympics from the U.S., and the U.S. sends so many athletes," he continues. "So that was kind of shocking to me."

"And then, fast forward only just a couple years to Tokyo, there was more out LGBTQ+ athletes than at any other Games in history," Kenworthy adds. "And we saw transgender athletes competing and nonbinary athletes competing."

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Gus Kenworthy attends the 2018 Global Citizen Festival: Be The Generation in Central Park on September 29, 2018 in New York City.
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Last year, LGBTQ+ representation was in the forefront at the Tokyo Olympics, with at least 182 out athletes competing during the Summer Games, according to the LGBTQ sports site Outsports. Additionally, at least 56 of the out athletes competing in Tokyo won medals, the outlet reported.

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Progress Pride flag. ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty

The total number of out LGBTQ+ athletes that competed in Tokyo was more than three times greater than those in the 2016 Games, which took place in Rio de Janeiro. At the Rio Games, there were 56 out athletes, and at the 2012 London Olympics before them, there was just 23.

Coming up at the Games in Bejing, history is being made, once again, through athletes such as American figure skater Timothy LeDuc, who will become the first openly nonbinary athlete to compete at a Winter Games.

RELATED VIDEO: Skier Gus Kenworthy Is Ready for His "Swan Song" at the Beijing Winter Olympics

Back in October 2015, Kenworthy publicly came out as gay in an interview with ESPN. In a later interview with Attitude magazine, the athlete said that he chose to come out through ESPN because "I wanted to do it in my words and once and for all — and hopefully help kids that are in the same position I was."

Now, Kenworthy tells PEOPLE that having so many out athletes competing is monumental. "I think it is just a really exciting thing for the sports world, and also for the queer community and for kids in sports watching because it gives them kind of a figurehead," he says.

"It gives them someone to look at and be like, 'Oh, that person is like me.' Or, 'Oh, maybe sports are for me,' because I think a lot of people are turned away from sports because it is so heteronormative," Kenworthy continues. "Sometimes it just feels like you don't fit in, and people end up leaving sports because of that."

"So I think it's exciting to see more and more queer representation on the world stage. And I think it will make it easier for future athletes," adds the American Horror Story star.

Still, Kenworthy — who is aiming to compete for Team Great Britain in Beijing — acknowledges that despite all the progress, the struggle and fight for acceptance remains far from over for the LGBTQ+ commmunity.

"I think it's amazing, but I also don't think that we're 100% there. I don't think that the world's 100% accepting," he explains. "And I think that as more athletes come out, we have to continue to celebrate them and lift them up."

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit Watch the Winter Olympics, beginning Feb 3, and the Paralympics, beginning March 4, on NBC.

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