Figure skater Adam Rippon made history this month as the first openly gay figure skater to compete on the United States Winter Olympics team. However, he is not a fan of Vice President Mike Pence, and he was sure to let the world know this before the Olympic Games in South Korea.
In a 17 January interview with USA Today, 28-year-old Rippon made it clear that he doesn’t want to meet the Vice President. ‘You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it,’ he said.
A meet-and-greet between the United States Olympic athletes and government officials is customary in the hours leading up to the opening ceremony.
What did Rippon say?
‘If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,’ Rippon stated. ‘I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.’
‘I don’t think he has a real concept of reality,’ Rippon continued. ‘To stand by some of the things that Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he’s a devout Christian man is completely contradictory. If he’s okay with what’s being said about people and Americans and foreigners and about different countries that are being called “shitholes,” I think he should really go to church.’
After this interview was published, Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah emailed the following statement to USA Today:
‘The vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes. This accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact. Despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang.’
Would Rippon ever meet Pence?
Rippon did say, however, that he’d consider meeting Pence after competing.
‘If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I’m finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation,’ Rippon said. ‘He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump. But I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.’
Yet, Rippon said he would not be attending the White House’s post-Olympic celebration hosted by President Donald Trump.
‘No, I’m a U.S. athlete representing my country. I will continue to share my story, but I will participate in no form of protest. I’m representing myself and my country on the world stage. I have a lot of respect for this opportunity. What makes America great is that we’re all so different. It’s 2018 and being an openly gay man and an athlete, that is part of the face of America now.’