The Coca-Cola Company’s LGBTQA business resource group recently held its annual networking event in Atlanta with Olympic Medal Skier Gus Kenworthy.

Pamela Stewart, senior vice president of national retail sales at Coca-Cola, spoke with Kenworthy onstage before an audience of approximately 350 people about his journey of coming out as a public figure and what he has learned along the way.

One of the most poignant moments of the evening came when Kenworthy recalled his struggles as a closeted professional athlete. He discussed the 2014 Olympic Games and the enormous guilt he felt in not disclosing his sexual orientation when asked by media.

TEAM USA’s clean sweep in freestyle skiing during the Games generated international media attention. Kenworthy was interviewed by media from around the world. Due to timing of the Games, many journalists asked about Valentine’s Day plans as well as romantic interests. In their questions, anchors and reporters automatically used heteronormative pronouns because they assumed the entire team was straight. The questions sparked an ethical dilemma for Kenworthy.

At the time, unbeknownst to the world, he was in a relationship with a man. Despite caring deeply for his boyfriend, he was unable to share his truth.

A year and a half after the 2014 Olympic games, in October 2015, Kenworthy came out in an interview with ESPN. Since then, he has been applauded for his strength and courage.

“Gus is a remarkable athlete and human being,” Stewart said. “And though we aren’t all Olympians, Gus’ story holds similarities for employees and audience members. Being yourself is something we all strive to do and ensuring we foster an equitable, inclusive and engaging environment is imperative. At the end of the day, if we do that, we ensure people are free to be themselves. We can’t thank Gus enough for coming and sharing his story.”

Members of the LGBTQA business resource group also spotlighted The Coca-Cola Company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by sharing marketing campaigns across the globe involving the LGBTQA community, including Brazil “this Coke is a Fanta”; Philippines’ “Taste the Feeling of Pride” (Manila Pride); and Coca-Cola Pool Boy, as well as a look inside the company’s culture of equality.

“It is always a great opportunity to bring together leaders within the LGTBQA community and Atlanta to celebrate progress and discuss the many opportunities we have as LGTBQA employees within the working world,” said Malcolm Bruni, VP, strategic partnership marketing, The Coca-Cola Company. “By being out and visible, we will continue to make progress.”