Olympic figure-skater Adam Rippon was honored at the Human Rights Campaign gala on Saturday. The bronze-medalist was awarded with the Visibility Award following his time as an out, gay American Olympian at Pyeonchang. Joined by friend and fellow gay Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy, Rippon was praised for his groundbreaking Olympic journey, overcoming fear and being an LGBTQ role model.
“When I was little, I used to care so much about what others thought of me,” Rippon told a crowd of 1000 in Los Angeles.
“I was mindful of the way I dressed, my mannerisms, the way I talked. I was afraid people would think I was weak. I was afraid of making mistakes. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be welcomed by the LGBTQ community because someone like me wouldn’t be the role model they were looking for. Maybe I was too gay and maybe I was just too myself.”
“I like to talk about my coming out because coming out has been the most liberating experience of my life,” Rippon said. “I hope that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, has their own coming out experience. When you can share who you are with the world you will find great power.”
The figure skater also touched on his very public back-and-forth with noted homophobe Vice President Mike Pence.
“I remember making the choice to be unafraid. I made the choice to not care what others thought of who I was. I was going to be truly me,” Rippon said of his time in Pyeongchang. “This was the biggest and most important decision I’ve ever madeto live fearlessly, to take risks, to let go of my fear of what others may think of me and to always keep learning. You will find that you will have your greatest success when you wear your scars proudly.”
Rippon has been out and proud since his time in the Winter Olympics, wooing us with his shamelessly flamboyant wit and social media shenaniganswhich sparked backlash from homophobic peopleso of course, he had to address the haters: “There might be people who come into your life just to tell you that they hope you fail,” Rippon said. “Be kind to them. They see something in you that they wish they had.”
At the gala, Rippon also met Sally Field’s gay son, Sam Greisman, who admitted on social media that he had a little crush. In February, Greisman tweeted a text conversation with his mom, who urged him to “find a way” to date Adam, who she referred to as “insanely pretty.” On Saturday, Field’s son tweeted a photo with Rippon, quipping “Thanks mom” as the caption.
Thanks, mom. pic.twitter.com/m25Er4EEfD
— sam greisman (@SAMGREIS) March 11, 2018
Finally, the bronze medalist addressed the people who paved the way before him, making it possible for Rippon to be an out and loud public persona. “This award belongs not only to me but to those who came before me and who helped make my journey that much easier.”
“When we come together we change the world,” Rippon said.
And ICYMI, INTO caught up with Rippon on the red carpet, where he shared that he’s just not into dudes who go to the gym.
— INTO (@Into) March 11, 2018
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images