Adam Rippon’s selection on Sunday for the 2018 Winter Olympics makes him just one of possibly two figure skaters who’ve been out while they competed at the Games.
Adam Rippon (Instagram)
According to Outsports, Rippon, 28, “will become the first openly gay American male skater to compete in the Olympics” when he takes to the ice in South Korea next month.
“I’m really grateful that the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons,” Rippon told The Washington Post. “… I feel that my experience will help me have my best performances at the Olympic Games, and it feels amazing to say that.”
The athlete first came out in 2015, in an interview with Skating magazine. He said at the time: “When athletes come out and say that they’re gay, it makes it a little more normal and less of a big deal – especially in the athletic community.”
Rippon recently joked to reporters that being a gay athlete is “exactly like being a straight athlete, only with better eyebrows.”
He, however, also acknowledged the importance of being a role model, especially to young people. “I think in this day and age, it’s so important for you to be proud of who you are. I can’t believe I am where I am today. I was just a little gay kid in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania.”
He continued: “Growing up I didn’t have a lot of role models. I said if I was ever given a platform and had a chance I would share my story. I think that’s made me a better competitor because I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’m able to go out there and I’m really able to be unabashedly myself. And I love myself.”
Rippon added: “I want someone who is young and struggling and are not sure if they are themselves [gay] to know that’s it’s okay.”
While there have undoubtedly been other gay figure skaters who’ve competed in the Games in the past, very few had publicly confirmed their sexuality at the time. America’s two-time Olympian Johnny Weir, for example, only formally came out in 2011, shortly before retiring.
Canadian pair skater Eric Radford is believed to the first competitive figure skater to come out at the height of his career, in 2014. He will also be competing at this year’s Olympic Games.
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games begins on 9 February in Pyeongchang, South Korea.