Adam Rippon just made U.S. Olympics history.
When the 28-year-old heads to South Korea, he’ll be the first openly gay U.S. male athlete to compete in the Winter Games.
Can he get a hell yeah?
Other male LGBTQ athletes have competed in the winter games in years past — notably, fellow figure skaters Johnny Weir and Brian Boitano — but none had been open about their sexual orientation heading into the competition.
Rippon may not be alone in sharing the title either.
Openly gay freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy could make it to Pyeongchang too.
Kenworthy, who came out publicly to ESPN in 2015, will find out soon whether he’ll make the cut for South Korea in February. He represented Team USA in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
It matters that openly LGBTQ athletes are representing the U.S. on the world stage. And that’s not lost on Rippon.
As he explained to NPR (emphasis added):
“Growing up, I really didn’t have a lot of role models. And I said, if I was ever given the chance and the platform, I would share my story. … I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’m able to go out there and I’m really able to be, like, unabashedly myself. And I want somebody who’s young, who’s struggling, who’s not sure if it’s OK if they are themselves to know that it’s OK.”
Rippon isn’t all serious business though.
In fact, he’s often quite the jokester with his 54,000 Twitter followers.
Whether he’s discussing his, er … physical assets…
There’s been a lot questions to whether I compete with butt pads on and I’d like to set the record straight and let it be known that no, it’s just my real butt. Thank you for your interest, comments, and concern. Love you.
— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) December 9, 2017
What it’s like to be a gay athlete…
I was recently asked in an interview what its like to be a gay athlete in sports. I said that it’s exactly like being a straight athlete. Lots of hard work but usually done with better eye brows.
— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) December 28, 2017
Or using familial bias to sway the judges…
Heading into the competition tomorrow, I just want everyone to know that my mom thinks I’m the best and I really hope the judges take that into consideration.
— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) November 9, 2017
Rippon certainly isn’t afraid to be himself — in the rink or outside of it.
I’m so proud of myself for how far I’ve come, I love the person I’ve become, and am so excited for what is ahead. My resolutions this year are to continue growing, take risks, be fearless, and be hotter than ever. Happy 2018! 🙌🏻🙆🏼♂️❤️ pic.twitter.com/WOayaqmOEU
— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) January 1, 2018
And as if blazing one trail wasn’t enough, Rippon’s age is also making Olympics history this year.
According to The Washington Post, 28-year-old Rippon will be the oldest U.S. figure skater to make a debut in the games since 1936.
He’s ready to use his seniority to the team’s advantage when it comes to mentoring fellow Americans Nathan Chen, 18, and Vincent Zhou, 17: “I always sort of feel like a leader or a big brother. I want the best for the both of them as we head into this Olympic Games.”
Making headlines for his age may be a bit less exciting than making LGBTQ history. But Rippon’s happy to make light of the decade of experience he has over Chen and Zhou. “I’m so excited that my two sons are doing so well,” he quipped to The Post about his teammates. “I’m honored to be their father.”
The opening ceremony to Pyeongchang 2018 is set for Friday, Feb. 9.