The gayest sport at the winter Olympics finally has some queer male representation.
“I’m really grateful that the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons,” Rippon said on Sunday after the decision, NPR reported.
According to NPR, Rippon’s selection was controversial. Rippon placed fourth at the national championships and was included on the team instead of Ross Miner, who placed second. According to U.S. Figure Skating president Sam Auxier, Rippon’s international record gave him an edge in the decision.
Rippon will be the first 28-year-old to debut at the Olympics in 80 years.
“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 unabashedly myself,” Rippon said. “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 may be joined by several other out queer athletes at the games, including skier Gus Kenworthy. Figure skater Johnny Weir is gay but did not come out until 2011, a year after he competed.
Queer athletes at the Olympics face more than just competition on the ice. In 2016 at the Rio Olympics, Daily Beast editor Nico Hines used social networking app Grindr to speak to athletes at the games, then published identifying information about the athletes online.
Regardless, Rippon is excited to up LGBTQ representation in sports.
“A few weeks ago, I was asked in an interview … what was it like being a gay athlete in sports. And I said it’s exactly like being a straight athlete. Only with better eyebrows,” Rippon said.
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