Of the fifteen LGBTQ athletes competing in the Winter Olympics, Gus Kenworthy the American freestyle skier and Adam Rippon, the American figure skater have attracted the most attention for their stances against Vice -President Mike Pence’s past voting records on LGBT rights.
Pence led the U.S. delegation at the opening of The Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang before the figure skating began. Rippon has been very vocal about LGBT rights when he’s not competing on the ice. “Being here at the Olympics does give me a louder voice. It has given me a platform. It’s given me a voice to reach young kids.”
Rippon, who came out in 2015 during an interview with Skating magazine, says “he doesn’t want his Olympic experience to be about Mike Pence.” Rippon’s comments about Pence refer to Pence’s 2000 congressional campaign website on which the then-candidate said he believed resources should be “directed to those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior. “ Pence’s spokesman said he wasn’t referring to conversion therapy. Hmmm. Sure sounds like it! When Pence was Governor of Indiana, he rejected gay marriage and in 2006, he said gay couples signaled societal collapse. He also opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Rippon says the feud is becoming a distraction to the games, and that he was not offered a meeting with Pence. He does not want to go with TEAM USA to the White House for he feels he would not be welcome by the current Administration.
Pence did tweet to Rippon to “Go for the Gold!” Commentator of the Winter Olympics Johnny Weir called Rippon’s performance ” spellbinding.” Co-commentator Tara Lipinski called him “the prince of the Olympics.” The Bronze Medalist Rippon has been called the most fun to be interviewed by NBC.
Says witty Rippon, “my blades are sharp, but my tongue is sharper.” Although Rippon, 28, was first place with a 87.95 score in the short-skating program, he was later beaten by Russia’s Dimitri Aliev who received a 98 score. Rippon’s skating did not include quads so his score fall despite his clean triple axels.
Whoppi Goldberg from “The View” wrote on Huffington Post that asking Rippon to meet Pence is like “asking a Jewish person to sit down and understand where the Nazi is coming from.” However, Republicans such as Sarah Palin’s daughter, Briston and Donald Trump, Jr. defend the Vice-President.
Should Rippon as an American and U.S. Team member go to the White House? Or should he boycott because Pence’s stance on LGBTQ rights is at odds with his own. What do you think?