Figure skater Adam Rippon will be the first openly gay man to compete for the United States in the Winter Olympics.
The 28-year-old celebrated qualifying for the Games, which take place in February in South Korea, in a tweet on Tuesday evening.
He’ll join twice national champion Nathan Chen and 2017 world junior champion Vincent Zhou to represent the U.S in figure skating.
“I’m really grateful that the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons,” Rippon, who qualified over the weekend, told reporters.
Rippon will be the first openly gay male athlete to represent the U.S. at the Winter Olympics. As LGBTQ sports site Outsports points out, U.S. figure skating Olympian Johnny Weir never publicly declared his orientation until after retirement. Rippon will be joined at the Olympics by openly gay Canadian skater Eric Radford, and U.S. freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is also hopeful to join the team.
Rippon has credited his coming out as having a significant impact on his successful figure skating career, attributing it to his winning the 2016 U.S. championships.
“A few years ago, I made the decision to come out publicly as gay — spoiler alert,” Rippon told U.S. Figure Skating in a promotional video. “I made that decision because I remember when I was younger, and I was unsure of who I was or afraid of what other people might think, I looked to other people who shared their stories.”
“I feel like, when I came out, it was a huge reason of why I was able to win the U.S. championships in 2016 … I was able to perform and genuinely show the judges and the audience
“I think being fearless is just unapologetically yourself,” he said. “My secret weapon is: I really just am who I am when I go out there … No one’s going to get in my way because I have gotten out of my own way.”
Rippon will hopefully pave the way for more American athletes to come out. According to Outsports, only seven of 2,900 athletes from 88 countries that competed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia were out — all were women and not one was from the U.S.
Rippon’s sexuality shouldn’t matter at all. It shouldn’t even be a headline. But significant discrimination against LGBTQ folks still exists, so this is a landmark we’d like to raise a toast to.
by Shannon Connellan
Source – Mashable