As our American Olympic delegation prepares to compete at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea, figure skater Adam Rippon, who made history as the first openly gay athlete to ever qualify for the Winter Olympics, expressed outrage at the news that Vice President Mike Pence will lead the U.S. delegation in the opening ceremonies.
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“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon said. “I’m not buying it.”
Concerned over the swift backlash that he received from Rippon, Pence has repeatedly attempted to mend fences with the Olympian. After getting publicly rejected trying to set up a meeting with Rippon, the Vice President instead took to Twitter.
.@Adaripp I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 8, 2018
Of course, Twitter saw right through his transparent PR stunt.
I'm from Indiana, it's a fact. He's a homophobic bigot.
— Ret. Wknd Warrior (@ssgsteveh) February 8, 2018
This tweet does not make you a friend or ally to the LGBTQ+ community. We know you by know; your words and by your actions how you really feel about us. Until you change, @Adaripp and the rest of the LGBTQ+ have every right to keep you at arms length. We simply don’t trust you.
— Parallel 50° North (@omg_yay) February 8, 2018
You are for him? Really? You voted against ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation! So you want it to be okay that someone can be fired, or can’t be married BUT you are for him??? Please!
— Tommie (@tommieresults) February 8, 2018
Mike Pence, come out of the closet for mother
— Todd (@toddbratton) February 8, 2018
@VP, you've been working against LGBT equality every day of your political life. That's not "fake news." A real man would own it instead of trying to hide your bigotry behind conciliatory tweets. Shut up and let @adaripp make America proud.
— josh kilmer-purcell (@joshkp) February 8, 2018
— Jason Modica (@JasonModica) February 8, 2018
You want to parade him around like a shiny, new toy. You don’t actually care about who he is as a human being.
— Courtney (@oh_cocobeann) February 8, 2018
"You will know them by their deeds."
Adam knows exactly how "for him" you are by your works, and no amount of Tweeting is going to change that.
— josh T. (@dshwa76) February 8, 2018
What Pence does not and will never understand is that that this man will succeed in spite of bigots like him. Not because of his foolish flag waving.
— ryanicus (@ryanicus) February 8, 2018
Save it Pence. Your bigotry is well documented. You shouldn't be in the opening ceremony. @adaripp should carry the flag to show how Americas can succeed even in the face of bigotry like yours.
— Sara House (@SaraHouse68) February 8, 2018
Yes, @VP, because clearly it's all about YOU. Get over yourself. You're not fit to polish Adam's boots.
— elizabeth's head is full of snakes (@ElizabethDeHoff) February 8, 2018
Shut up bigot pic.twitter.com/blZ0IKGcj7
— Kavin (@TheOnlyKAVIN) February 8, 2018
Prior to the tweet, Rippon has been outspoken in his opposition to engaging the homophobic Vice President.
“I don’t think he has a real concept of reality,” he explained. “To stand by some of the things that 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.”
The Olympic figure skater further claimed that, should be be invited to the White House for a post-Olympic reception, he would reject any such invitation.
“I won’t go because I don’t think somebody like me would be welcome there. I know what it’s like to go into a room and feel like you’re not wanted there,” he explained. “If I talked to people the way that President Trump talks to people, my mom would kick my ass.”
Pence, the fierce conservative and virulent homophobe, has been outspoken in his opposition to gay rights. He signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers for religious purposes. He has supported the use of federal funding to treat people “seeking to change their sexual behavior,” has voted to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, and has claimed that LGBT military service amounts to “social experimentation.”
Perhaps Pence should look to Rippon for a lesson in what the true values of the United States are.
“What makes America great is that we’re all so different. It’s 2018 and being an openly gay man and an athlete, that is part of the face of America now.”
Rippon may not yet have competed, but he’s already a hero to every American who values equality, tolerance, and love. No amount of tweeting by Pence is going to change that.