The inauguration of President Trump has ushered in an ugly time of politicization for the sports world. With the Olympics here, we are getting a fresh wave of it in social media and from a willing press.
Gus Kenworthy, a skier, decided to make a random statement about his sexuality in order to bash Vice-President Pence. While stating he is so honored to be competing for America, he’s proud to represent the LGBT community. While displaying a photo of himself and figure skater Adam Rippon on Instagram, Kenworthy ended it with, “Eat your heart out, Pence. #TeamUSA #TeamUSGay”
Rippon was not pleased to learn that Pence would be leading the American delegation to the Olympics so he went public about it last month. (L.A. Times)
Rippon said of Pence: “I don’t think he has a real concept of reality. 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 OK 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 is 28 years old and only came out in late 2015. Pence’s office has reached to him but so far there has been no meeting between the two. It seems to me if these two guys were serious about bringing people together with civility, then a meeting would have been accepted by now. Pence tweeted his support, too. (L.A. Times)
“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,” Rippon said. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”
He added: “If I had the chance to meet him afterward, after I’m finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation,” Rippon said. “He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump .… But I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.”
Pence tweeted his support to Rippon and wished him and all the American athletes well.
.@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
Now Kenworthy looks forward to the day when he isn’t just known as a gay Olympian but as a good athlete. Well, since clearly, his goal was to make headlines with his sexuality and use it to bash Pence and Trump, what did he expect? I used it in my headline. His sexuality is his message. The irony is, of course, Trump is probably the most gay-friendly president to date. He was also the only candidate running in the GOP primary to specifically address the LGBT community at the Republican National Convention.
“Myself being out, Adam being out, all these athletes that are finally out for the first time, I think it just shows a shift and a change and hopefully it means that in the future it won’t be a big thing. It won’t be a headline. It won’t be ‘the gay Olympian,’ ‘the gay skier, the gay anything. It will just be ‘a skier.'”
Good luck with that. Kenworthy’s press during the last Olympics was vastly different – he received kudos for rescuing puppies. I think we can all get behind that kind of Olympic story.