A talented US skater, who has high hopes of representing his country in the 2018 Olympics, has said that being open about his sexuality has helped him compete at his best.
Adam Rippon, 27, spoke to TeamUSA.org to tie in with Pride Month in the US.
‘Being gay isn’t what defines me, but it’s a big part of who I am and I like to talk about my coming out because that’s when I started to own who I was as a person,’ he says.
‘That’s what’s important, not the being gay part but at some point — gay or straight — you need to own who you are. You can’t be afraid of who you are or else you’re afraid of your own potential, and if you don’t own who you are then you can’t grow.
‘When I came out was when I was able to breathe. When everyone knew, I didn’t feel like I was hiding anything. I didn’t feel like I was putting on a show. I was being me and it was easy. It was a lot easier to be me than to be who I thought I was supposed to be.’
‘The first time I kissed a boy, I’m like, “I definitely am gay”’
Rippon was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He won the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships, and is a 2016 US National Champion gold medal winner.
Like many young people, Rippon said that he at first denied to himself that he was gay. That changed when he first kissed another man.
‘For as many years as I was like, “No, I’m not gay.” The first time I kissed a boy, I’m like, “I definitely am gay”.’
He publicly came out as gay in an interview in Skating magazine in October 2015.
He received huge support for speaking about his sexuality, which reassured him he’d done the right thing. He credits it with helping him to win his gold medal at the 2016 US Championships.
‘I went out and I felt like I was performing as myself and not a character.
‘That’s really what helped push me to win my first national title.’
He now feels comfortable talking about his sexuality and is mindful of how it can help others.
‘I think as we get older we owe it to the people who look up to us to stand up for them and say something to make the path easier. We owe it to ourselves and the people around us to continue to pave that road forward.’