Winter Olympics 2018: Out athletes Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon show off their beautiful friendship
Two gay US athletes are getting a lot of attention online after striking up a high-profile friendship.
Adam Rippon, a figure skater, and Gus Kenworthy, a skier, are the only two openly gay men on the US Winter Olympic squad for the games, which kicked off this week in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The pair, who have both spoken about the importance of LGBT visibility ahead of the games, met up at the opening ceremony yesterday.
The pair posted a number of snaps online, and sent messages in support of eachother.
Tagging Rippon in a post, Kenworthy wrote: “We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it. @Adaripp #Olympics #OpeningCeremony”
Rippon responded: “Representing the USA is one of the greatest honors of my life and being able to do it as my authentic self makes it all so much sweeter ️ ❤️
“I am 1000% here for this new and beautiful friendship ♂️ ”
The pair’s messages are attracting a LOT of attention online, with Kenworthy’s post recieving 100,000 likes in less than 24 hours.
Vlogger Tyler Oakley, who interviewed Adam Rippon earlier this week, wrote: “Proud of Adam & Gus!! Two incredible humans with other-worldly talents that i’m honored to call my friends, competing to prove they’re some of the best on Earth.
“Couldn’t pick a better duo to be the first openly gay US Winter Olympians ever.”
In his interview with the YouTube star, Rippon had revealed that he is currently single – and ready to mingle in PyeongChang.
Meanwhile Gus Kenworthy has been dating actor Matt Wilkas for several years.
Speaking to Out Magazine previously, he said: “I was in a relationship from 18 to 23, and I still haven’t really experienced that much sexually.
“I wouldn’t want to ever sacrifice my relationship with Matt just to go out and get that out of my system, but we’ve also talked about that and he doesn’t want to deprive me of experiencing anything while I’m still young.
“I don’t necessarily know what that means. We’re not in an open relationship and we’re not breaking up. But we’re also not getting married.”
Kenworthy and Wilkas also opened up about confessing their love for the first time.
Wilkas said: “Gus likes surprising me. He showed up at my door in Hartford, Connecticut, where I was doing a play, a few months after we met.
“In the 24-hour period before that he was being very elusive, and I got the sense that he wasn’t interested in me anymore. I was weirdly upset, and then he showed up.
“We were on the couch kissing, and I’d been sitting on the words for a long time, the feeling of it, and I just said, ‘I have something I want to say, but I’m really scared to say it to you,’ and I started crying.”
Kenworthy added: “We were lying on the couch, and I could feel his heart beating and sensed his energy, and he turned to me and said, ‘I want to tell you something, but I’m scared’, and I just totally hijacked it and said, ‘I love you’.
“And then he said it back, and he was crying, and I was crying. It was really sweet.”
The two gay Olympians have been embroiled in a row with US Vice President Mike Pence ahead of the games.
Gus Kenworthy, who has been at the forefront of the US’s publicity campaign, said Pence’s presence would send a negative message due to his anti-LGBT record.
Speaking on The Ellen Show this week, Kenworthy called the Vice President a “bad fit” to lead the delegation.
And after Adam Rippon challenged the Vice President’s concerning stances on LGBT equality last month, Pence tweeted suggesting that the athlete had misled the public.
Earlier this week, Pence branded his anti-LGBT record “fake news”.
In tweets, he branded his record “fake news” and a “nonstory”.
He said: ““Headed to the Olympics to cheer on #TeamUSA. One reporter trying to distort 18 yr old nonstory to sow seeds of division. We won’t let that happen! #FAKENEWS. Our athletes are the best in the world and we are for ALL of them! #TEAMUSA”
Tweeting at Rippon he added: “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!”
But while Pence may be playing a moderate as a question mark dangles over the future of Trump’s Presidency, his extreme anti-LGBT record is far from made up.
A hardline evangelical who has not supported a single LGBT reform across nearly two decades in politics, VP Pence has one of the worst records on equality of any President or Vice President in recent memory.
Pence previously suggested that HIV prevention funding be drained in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy.
On a 2000 Congressional campaign website, he wrote: “Congress should support the reauthorization of the [HIV funding] Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organisations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviours that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.”
While serving as Governor of Indiana, Pence stirred up international outrage in 2015 when he signed Indiana’s controversial ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’, giving businesses the right to discriminate against gay people on the grounds of religion.
Pence claimed the law was intended to “protect” organisations from having to provide services for same-sex weddings, saying: “I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier [Indiana citizen] of every faith.
“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack.”
He appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality.
In a clip, Pence was asked: “Yes or no: do you believe gay and transgender people should be able to be fired from their jobs just for that reason only?”
After an awkward ten-second silence, Pence attempted to stall, responding: “It’s a great privilege to be your Governor.”
Fudging a response, he said: “My position as I expressed in the state of the State address is that we are a state with a constitution, and as you know… that constitution has very strong safeguards for freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.”
During the Presidential campaign, Pence backed plans to roll back Barack Obama’s executive protections on LGBT rights, so that “the transgender bathroom issue can be resolved with common sense at the local level”.
He said: “This is such an example of an administration that seems to have… there’s no area of our lives too small for them to want to regulate, no aspect of our constitution too large for them to ignore.
“Donald Trump and I both believe these questions can be resolved with common sense at the local level.”
“These issues are resolved in the state of Indiana whenever they come up, and they should be resolved, for the safety and well-being of our children first and foremost, their privacy and rights, and with common sense. Donald Trump and I simply believe all of these issues are best resolved at the state level, by communities.”
He added: “Washington has no business intruding on the operation of our local schools. It’s just one more example of the heavy hand of this administration, and Donald Trump and I will stand by that common-sense people that when it comes to our kids, and the operation of our schools, those decisions should be made at the local level.
“Washington DC has no business imposing its bill and its values on communities around the nation.”
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Decades of proof have not stopped Pence from attempting to rewrite his deeply anti-LGBT record, however.
He abruptly started denying his support for gay cure therapy in December 2016, one month before he was sworn in as Vice President – despite never once trying to correct public reports about his well-known views in the 16 years beforehand.
Pence is reported to be behind many of the anti-LGBT actions taken by the Trump administration, supporting Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ bid to roll back anti-discrimination protections for gay people.