Earlier this month, figure skater Adam Rippon — the first openly gay man to ever qualify for the Winter Olympics as a Team USA competitor — criticized Vice President Mike Pence’s role in leading the United States’ delegation at the upcoming 2018 games in South Korea. In an exclusive interview with Life & Style, the 28-year-old doubled down on his statements.
“I mean, it wouldn’t be ideal [to run into Pence],” Adam said. However, after giving it some thought, the Pennsylvania native told Life & Style that he would most definitely approach the conservative politician if the opportunity presented itself. “Honestly, to be frank, if we somehow ran into each other, I would march right up to him and introduce myself to him and be like, ‘I’m the gay athlete that your press secretary sent a message about.’ And I would just introduce myself because I’m not invisible.”
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Of course, Adam is referring to the email statement Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, wrote to USA Today after the athlete told the outlet that he doesn’t support the 58-year-old VP because he previously “funded gay conversion therapy.” In 2000, Pence wrote on his congressional campaign website that “resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”
Though he did not specify what kinds of “sexual behavior” he felt needed to be amended, Pence — whose opposition to gay rights has been heavily documented — has long been considered a threat to LGBTQ citizens by community leaders. Still, Alyssa insisted to USA Today that portions of Adam’s interview with the publication were “totally false” with “no basis in fact.” Just FYI, Pence did sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act during his tenure as the Governor of Indiana. Many critics believe the act fosters discrimination against gay people.
Given Pence’s problematic relationship with the LGBTQ community, Adam told Life & Style that he’d like to impart some wisdom on the self-proclaimed Christian. “I think about the people’s lives he’s affected and the legislation he’s pushed. I would really want for them to be able to share their story because I think that when people are intolerant of other people, it comes out of ignorance and not knowing other people. So I’d like to speak on their behalf,” Adam said. “I think it does nobody any favors if I just run away. I would say everything that I’ve said to his face. I mean, I need to tell him about himself.”
We’ve got our popcorn ready for when that glorious moment comes. Learn more about Adam at teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics are live on Feb. 8.