The Winter Olympics are set to begin shortly, but thanks to the ascent of the always wildly controversial Trump administration to power, the occasion of the Olympics has — like NFL games here in the U.S. — found itself beset with Trumpian controversy.
The controversy surrounds one of the first openly gay members of a U.S. Winter Olympic team, figure skater Adam Rippon.
Rippon made his opposition known to the openly anti-LGBT U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during conversations with reporters in January, and Pence apparently decided in the face of that to attempt to set up a meeting with the skater.
Rippon, according to USA Today, declined that invitation for a meeting, although neither Pence’s nor Rippon’s team would comment on the matter. The publication based its reporting on comments from two anonymous sources.
Rippon set off the back and forth when he criticized the selection of Pence to lead the U.S. delegation to the Games during the soon to begin opening ceremony, echoing the longstanding allegation that the former Indiana governor supports gay “conversion therapy.”
After that, Pence’s team both issued a public statement against Rippon’s claims and extended the reported invitation for a meeting.
Rippon summed up his take on the matter a couple weeks after the initial back and forth by saying:
‘If I had the chance to meet [Pence] afterwards, after I’m finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation. He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump… But I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.’
Pence doesn’t represent the beliefs of large swaths of American society, having long sought to normalize anti-LGBT discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom” and making it not at all far fetched to suggest he supported and/or still supports something like gay conversion therapy.
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