Adam Rippon: I felt uncomfortable being gay for a really long time
Adam Rippon has opened up about coming to terms with being… well, Adam Rippon.
The beloved figure skater won the world’s hearts at the Olympic Games – thanks to his flamboyant charm and fierce determination to send a metric ton of sass in the direction of the head of the US delegation, anti-LGBT VP Mike Pence.
After arriving back in the US, Rippon has begun a partnership with LGBTQ non-profit GLAAD, fronting a youth engagement campaign.
Rippon dropped by BuzzFeed News’ AM to DM today, opening up about why it’s important to him.
He said: “I’m working with their youth engagement program, and the more I learned about these young ambassadors the more I became so inspired by the kids involved.
“I’m from a really small town in Pennsylvania, and I really felt uncomfortable being gay for a really long time… If we had a program like this and we had kids involved that were going back into their community and really giving back and giving young kids who may feel different or out of place the tools they could have to have a role model, to know they can succeed, that would’ve been completely life-changing for me.”
He added: “As soon as I found out about this initiative I was like I have to be a part of this because this is gonna change some young kid’s world.
“Growing up and meeting other gay people, you meet so many different people and their circumstances are so different that a lot of times there isn’t somebody you can relate to… these kids are going, they’re getting the tools, they go back to their communities and they put together what they think is best for the kids in their area, and they are just changing the world.
“How could you not change a world’s changer?”
Speaking about tackling Pence, he said: “I wanted to find a balance of using my Olympic platform. I was asked what I thought of Mike Pence being head of the delegation at the opening ceremony, and I answered it honestly… The world is watching, and I’m really lucky I come from this amazing country where we can speak our minds to help create change and to create a conversation.”
— AM to DM by BuzzFeed News (@AM2DM) March 7, 2018
Rippon also recently charmed Ellen DeGeneres.
Speaking with Ellen, the activist said: “I’m working with GLAAD’s youth engagement program and you know this is so important because we’re reaching these kids and they’re becoming activists in their community. When I was young, to have somebody out there that I could’ve looked up to, it would’ve made a world of difference, and it would’ve changed my life.
“When I was young, I had a goldfish named Princess Diana, and that should have been the writing on the wall for me.
“I also had a goldfish name Diaria, spelled diarrhea, for balance. It’s a family name.
“But to have these young kids going out there and changing the world. This is something that I need to be a part of.”
“It is really important for the youth out there to have somebody, and have a face on television and sports and every area, and say that there are gay people everywhere, and know you’re not alone.
“One in five kids today identify with some sort of LGBTQ identity. That’s one in five. Right here, we’re two for two.
“So look to your left. Look to your right. And if nobody’s gay, you’re probably the one!”
It was also announced that Rippon will join Britney Spears onstage at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards next month (April 12).
The pair have previously tweeted their adoration for each other.
During the Olympics, Britney tweeted: “Hey @Adaripp…. I just wanted let you know that I am a fan, I am not in denial, and that you are THE MOST FUN!! Keep making us all smile at the #WinterOlympics and good luck today ✨⛸”.
He responded: “I could feel you on the ice with me @britneyspears. I now have an OVERWHELMING desire to post Instagram fashion shows, google stock imagines of corn, and paint on the balcony of my dorm in the Olympic village. Thank you for not being in denial, LOVE YOU”.
Speaking to Rippon, Ellen said: “I love you so much. I don’t know what I’m going to do with you, but I’m doing something with you.
“I want you to do something on the show. You’re fantastic, and we want to be the first to make a donation to your fundraiser.”
The talk show host surprised the athlete with a $10,000 donation to the cause.
Rippon said: “I’m an openly gay man competing at the Olympics. and [to interact with] somebody who thinks that gay people might be this societal collapse of our nation, I didn’t feel like it was the right time.
“If I had the chance to have a call with him now, I have nothing to say to Mike Pence. That’s not a conversation for me.
“I think going to the Olympics, it’s given me a really great platform to give a voice to people who feel like they don’t have one.
“So if that call were to happen I would say, you know what, it’s not for me. It’s for those people whose lives have been affected and changed by legislation that he’s pushed.
“It’s a chance for them to share their stories and their experiences. It’s not for me.
“I would hope and pray that he is open enough to sit down and hear people’s stories and meet these people that he has those feelings about.”
Rippon said he was still a “hot mess” despite his rise in media profile.
He said: “I’m still the same old hot mess I was 10 years ago. I’m still that same person.
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“My life has completely changed, but at the core I am still that same old disaster.”
Rippon wore a ‘&’ pin on the show, to show solidarity for those most vulnerable to discrimination in the current cultural and political climate.
Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD, said: “This year America fell in love with our LGBTQ Olympians, and Adam Rippon stood out in that esteemed crowd with his activism, passion, humor, and willingness to always be himself.
“Adam is a champion who will accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ youth and inspire them to achieve their dreams while proudly living their truth.”