Out Olympian Gus Kenworthy has defended taking a straight part in FX's upcoming drama American Horror Story: 1984.

The 27-year-old freestyle skier came out on the cover of ESPN Magazine following his silver medal win at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

In an op-ed for ESPN, Kenworthy responded to pushback he received for taking the part of a straight man on the series.

Kenworthy said that AHS co-creator Ryan Murphy asked him to audition for the part after they met last winter at a dinner in New York.

“When Ryan announced he’d hired me to play Emma’s boyfriend, he and I both received a lot of negative comments online,” Kenworthy wrote. “The gay community is the most supportive community in the world and also the quickest to cut you down. There were a lot of people saying, 'Gus has no credits, no experience. How did he get this role?' Some people wanted to know how I was cast as a straight man or if I could play straight. Is that even a question? I spent the first 23 years of my life playing a straight man.”

“I used that joke to defuse the negativity on social media, but there’s a lot of truth in it. Every gay man has the experience at some point in his life of pretending to be someone he’s not. I knew as a teenager that I was gay, yet I was still sleeping with girls, pretending to be straight, playing this persona I thought I needed to be for my sport. The stakes were so high. I remember going to crazy lengths to make people believe I was someone I was not. That’s acting.”

“Maybe this sounds unfair, but I feel like it’s much more OK for a gay man to play a straight role than vice versa. Most characters are straight. Most shows are about straight people and straight lives and straight dynamics, and if there is a gay character on the show, it’s usually a sidekick. Allowing a gay person to play that character does a lot in terms of visibility and breaking down perceptions and stereotypes. For the longest time, only straight actors were cast in gay and lesbian and transgender roles, and that makes LGBTQ actors feel like there is no opportunity for them to be seen on screen. If you’re telling a trans story and you have Scarlett Johansson playing the role, it discredits what it is to be a trans person. Even if she does an incredible job, it doesn’t allow people to have a real sense of what it means to be trans, and for so many people it’s the only taste they get.”

He added: “I also think a gay actor playing straight is a big deal. There aren’t many openly gay actors getting cast in straight parts. But that is changing, and I am lucky to have the opportunity to be part of that change.”