Gus Kenworthy made headlines this year when he became America’s first openly gay Olympic freestyle skier at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Though Kenworthy did not win a medal at the Olympics this year, he did win the hearts of many adoring fans, thanks to his delightful online presence — and, in the process, became a modern gay icon.
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
However, fame hasn’t been entirely kind to Kenworthy. With every taste of notoriety comes a serving of haters, or in Kenworthy’ case, homophobic trolls.
Kenworthy recently shared some screenshots of the hate speech he found in the comments section of one of his YouTube videos as proof that homophobia is still rearing its ugly head in the online stratosphere.
Them: It's 2018 nobody cares that you're gay. Homophobia doesn't exist anymore. Get over yourself.
My YouTube notifications: pic.twitter.com/moASu15TR4
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 27, 2018
I’ll spare you the details of all the comments, but suffice it to say, they’re all some variation on this charming opinion:
Kenworthy’s followers commented with words of support and agreed that discrimination is still very much a problem, particularly in online communities.
They tell me the same shit about race too boo…utter shit!
— Shanna Malcolm (@shannamalcolm) February 27, 2018
— Rebekah Kochan (@RebekahKochan) February 27, 2018
All I'd say to that pic.twitter.com/DeOeNkgVKi
— 瑞安 (@ryoman1127) February 27, 2018
Even Chelsea Clinton offered some heartening words of reassurance.
I am so sorry Gus you are dealing with this. All those vile comments reflect on the people making them, not you. Thank you for always representing #TeamUSA so well, on and off skis.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 28, 2018
YouTube eventually weighed in on the viral tweet, apologizing profusely for its commenters and assuring Kenworthy that YouTube is “actively working” to fix its hate speech problem.
This is unacceptable, we’re so sorry these comments and notifications came through to you. We’re actively working to fix this so you won't see or be notified of abusive comments and exploring more ways to protect people from abusive comments overall.
— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) February 28, 2018
Yeah. Sure, YouTube.
Considering that YouTube comments are notorious for their toxic sentiments and trollishness, it’s unlikely that the company is only now becoming aware of this issue. Most Twitter users didn’t buy the apologetic sentiments, demanding to see actual results from the company instead.
You could fix it in a cold second, but banning vile commentators would reduce views. One can only conclude you care more about revenues than anything else. Spare us the sanctimony.
— Gavin Scott (@GavScott) February 28, 2018
How can you have a system that detects music and other people's shit in their videos, and ban them for copyright infringement, but not be able to do anything about the comment section on YouTube?
Why not just blacklist racist and homophobic words?
— sǝusıʌ ɯıʞ (☞ﾟヮﾟ)☞ (@Visnes) February 28, 2018
Kenworthy echoed his followers’ sentiments, humbly suggesting that YouTube crack down on the use of slurs and racial epithets in their users’ comments.
Thank you YouTube! Maybe consider filtering out keywords and phrases like "faggot" and "kill yourself" so that they just never show up in anyone's comments? I'm confident enough to brush it off but a younger me would have had a harder time. https://t.co/9Iugwoev1q
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 28, 2018
Come on, YouTube. You’re more than capable of implementing these changes, and neglecting to do so only puts you on the wrong side of history.