The United States has only sent two openly gay athletes to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon can’t seem to avoid making news for anything but their respective performances.
First they found themselves in a feud with Vice President Mike Pence before the games even got under way. Then a Fox News executive wrote a vile opinion piece that took objection with the U.S. Olympic Committee celebrating the diversity of the American team, saying we shouldn’t focus on being “Darker, Gayer, Different.”
And if that wasn’t enough, Donald Trump, Jr., the president’s son, took a swipe at Rippon for refusing to let the feud with Pence go.
Thursday, however, it was Kenworthy’s turn enter the fray for a non-competition related reason – but at least he was on offense this time, and not backed into a corner.
Kenworthy injured himself in a practice run for his upcoming slopestyle event, and took to Twitter to relay the news to his fans, taking a well-timed shot in support of Rippon in the process.
Broke my thumb yesterday in practice. It won't stop me from competing (obvi) but it does prevent me from shaking Pence's hand so… Silver linings! Will be giving my teammates (and literally everyone else) an enthusiastic "thumbs up!" of encouragement the rest of the trip. pic.twitter.com/XylPPGAq9P
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 15, 2018
“Broke my thumb yesterday in practice. It won’t stop me from competing (obvi) but it does prevent me from shaking Pence’s hand so… Silver linings!”
Rippon and Kenworthy were thrust into the spotlight last month when they spoke out against Vice President Mike Pence’s designation as the leader of America’s Olympic delegation. As Governor of Indiana, Pence signed a controversial “Religious Freedom” bill into law that, among other things, allows businesses to cite their own religious beliefs as justification for refusing to serve gay and lesbian customers. The LGBT community hasn’t forgotten.
The Vice President is also dogged by evidence that he supports so-called ‘Gay Conversion Therapy,’ the quasi-medical, religiously inspired programs popular among evangelical Christians. These cruel and demeaning institutions operate on the faulty, bigoted premise that homosexuality is simply a the result of misguided temptation, like drugs or alcohol addiction, and that gays and lesbians can be made straight again through a combination of pseudo-psychiatry, disciplinary measures, and prayer.
Rippon called the Vice President out specifically for comments he’s made in the past that suggest he’s in support of the highly insulting and fallacious practice when first informed about Pence’s selection to lead the delegation.
“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” he responded in shock when a USA Today reporter told him the news. “I’m not buying it.”
Asked if he would meet Pence to shake his hand, Rippon said, “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,” her said. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”
He wasn’t done.
“I don’t think he has a real concept of reality,”he continued in the same USA Today Interview. “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.”