Winter Olympics: Out athlete Gus Kenworthy takes aim at Trump with ‘Make America Gay Again’ hat
Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy sported a ‘Make America Gay Again’ hat at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang this week.
The out freestyle skier, who is on the US Winter Olympic team, has been fairly vocal about his support for LGBT rights at the Games – speaking out against the head of the US Olympic Delegation, Vice President Mike Pence.
Kenworthy has also vowed to skip a White House reception for athletes, saying: “When we have people elected into office that believe in conversion therapy and are trying to strip trans rights in the military and do these things that are directly attacking the LGBT community, I have no patience.”
The Olympian took another potshot at the administration today – by donning a ‘Make America Gay Again’ hat.
Kenworthy sported the hat on top of his Winter Olympics uniform as he made a video in support of LGBT non-profit the Human Rights Campaign.
He said: “I am a huge supporter of the Human Rights Campaign because they’re a huge supporter of me.
“It’s been an incredible Olympics – we’ve seen so much change, so much progress, and so much visibility for the LGBT community, and that’s been incredible.
“I don’t think we would be anywhere near where are are without all the hard work the Human Rights Campaign has done. You guys have changed lives, you have saved lives, and I cannot thank you enough.”
The Olympian worried fans last week – when he revealed he had sustained an injury during training.
Kenworthy said he had broken his thumb – though he insisted it would not stop him from competing.
He tweeted: “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.”
Kenworthy also hit back at a critic who accused him of being “obsessed” with Pence.
He wrote: “This was literally my first tweet ever that mentioned him. You’ve tweeted more about me than I have about him.
“Soooo actually it looks like YOU’RE the one who is obsessed with ME! And while I’m flattered I’m really just not interested. K thx bye!”
Kenworthy has insisted his repulsion to Pence and Trump does not mean he is unpatriotic.
He said: “I am so proud to be from the U.S. and to be from a country where you are able to voice your political opinions and stand up for what you believe in. I think that when you have a platform, you have to use it, especially when you feel very strongly about something.”
He joins his friend, figure skater Adam Rippon, who has also vowed to boycott Trump and Pence.
Donald Trump Jr earlier this month took aim at Rippon.
Rippon had come under fire from conservatives after spurning the head of the US Olympic delegation, Vice President Mike Pence, a notorious opponent of LGBT rights.
After winning a bronze medal in the team skating event, the athlete attempted to move on from the row.
Rippon had told CNN: “I have no problem about what I’ve said because I stand by it, but I think right now the Olympics are about Olympic competition and the athletes involved.”
He quipped: “I don’t want my Olympic experience to be about Mike Pence, I want it to be about my amazing skating and being America’s sweetheart!”
Don Jr said: “Really? Then Perhaps you shouldn’t have spent the past few weeks talking about him. I haven’t heard him mention you once???”
Pence in fact put out a statement suggesting Rippon lied to the public and later sent a tweet claiming his allegations were “fake news”.
Don Jr’s follows proceeded to send homophobic abuse to Rippon.
One wrote: “You whine and complain like a little bitch too much. You’re not like a normal athlete. You turn the olympics into a stage for your gayness and you embarrassed your country. You’re a bitchy, overrated faggot who doesn’t deserve to be on team USA.”
Another added: “Wish this faggot would shut his hole”
Rippon had coincidentally clapped back at homophobes in the same interview that triggered Don Jr.
He said: “I think I worked really hard to get where I am. I didn’t get where I am for being gay or speaking out on different issues. I got to where I am for working really hard.
“I think me using my voice has given my skating a greater purpose, above something I enjoy to do. It’s given me a voice to reach young kids.
“I’ve got so many messages from young kids all over the country… it’s incredibly powerful, this platform you can have at the Olympic games. I’ve heard a lot of people say, Adam Rippon should tone it down.
“I can’t tone it down, because I’m being me, and being myself. I would be doing myself an injustice, and I would be doing an injustice to those kids who don’t feel comfortable to be themselves.”
He has not directly responded to Don Jr.
But he did quip: “With everything going on in the media about me this Valentine’s Day I don’t want people to get distracted and forget how beautiful I am (on the outside)”.
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.
In Congress, he voted against hate crime laws, gay people serving in the military, and discrimination protections for LGBT people.
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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And 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.”
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.