Adam Rippon is using his new, history-making platform to resist the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ agenda.
The 28-year-old figure skater, who on Jan. 7 became the first openly gay U.S. man to qualify for the Winter Games, didn’t mince words when asked about Vice President Mike Pence in a new interview with USA Today. Rippon suggested Pence isn’t well-suited to lead the U.S. delegation to South Korea in part because he’s an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ rights.
“I don’t think he has a real concept of reality,” Rippon said. “To stand by some of the things that [President] 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.”
Rippon said his skating obligations could prevent him from encountering Pence during a meet-and-greet prior to the opening ceremony. Still, he’s vowed not to “go out of his way” to make it happen, even if he finds the time.
“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,” he said, pointing to Pence’s reported support of ex-gay “conversion” therapy while serving in Congress.
Though Rippon hasn’t ruled out a post-Olympics meeting with Pence because he “seems more mild-mannered” than Trump, he stressed that the vice president “doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.”
“If I talked to people the way that President Trump talks to people,” Rippon told the BBC, “my mom would kick my ass.”
UPDATE Jan. 18 Alyssa Farah, who is the vice president’s press secretary, denounced claims of Pence’s support of conversion therapy as “totally false with no basis in fact” in a statement to HuffPost Thursday.
“The vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes,” Farah wrote. “But despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang.”