His name is Adam Rippon and he’s the first openly gay Winter Olympian. He’s a figure skater who is poised to compete in the Winter Olympics in Peyongchang, South Korea. Can’t say I blame him for rejecting any interviews with the Vice President. After all, despite the claims of the Vice Presidential staff, he is notoriously anti-gay. If I were Adam Rippon, there would never be an interview even post-Olympics.
Adam Rippon, the first openly gay athlete to win a place on the US Winter Olympics team, turned down an invitation to meet Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday, the second time he’s done so.
“I don’t want to distract from the competition or make this too much for my competitors and my teammates,” the figure skater, 28, said on Thursday.
I don’t assume that every male figure skater is gay, but of course it’s fine with me if every last one of them from any country is. I understand the desire to hide their sexuality and it’s not for any of us to decide why they do or do not come out of the closet. It’s the right of each of us to come out or not as we each see fit. It’s not up to the world to out anyone, even if they stand on the world’s stage.
When I ask figure skater Jeremy Abbott how athletes should respond to Russia’s anti-gay laws, his eyes widen. “Um,” he says, and stops. He shrugs a little and glances over at the U.S. Figure Skating (USFS) handler who’s standing nearby.
“You don’t have to answer that,” the handler reassures him.
Abbott takes in a breath, glances down. “Yeahhh,” he sighs, almost inaudibly. Then — “I’m going to walk away from that one.”
We’re backstage at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which serve as an unofficial qualifier for the Olympic team, and Abbott’s a favorite. He’s 28 years old, planning to retire at the end of the season and cautious; he was criticized last year for comparing Russia’s laws — which have motivated the rape, torture, and murder of gay men and women — to bad interior design. (“I’m not going to go into somebody’s house and be like, “Um, the way you decorate is hideous.”) A bunch of athletes had been cornered on the topic, and the less media-savvy skaters hadn’t yet mastered the art of expressing compassion while sidestepping responsibility. Abbott just happened to come up with a particularly inept metaphor.
Later, when I pass him in the hallway, he apologizes twice.
Not sure that leaving his friends to learn things from a magazine was the right thing to do, but to each his own…
Johnny Weir’s husband Victor Weir-Voronov revealed a surprising personal fact on an installment of “Bethenny” this week.
Weir-Voronov, who tied the knot with the U.S. figure skater on New Year’s Eve in 2011, told host Bethenny Frankel that he had not come out of the closet to his family until one month before the wedding.
“I told my family a month before we got married, and my friends only found out in People magazine,” Weir-Voronov, who claims he knew he was gay as a child, told Frankel. “I didn’t come out of the closet, I chainstormed the door down … I’m a masculine guy, people [didn’t expect it].”