While we’ve certainly had many American gay men go to the Winter Olympics before, they’ve always been in the closet while doing it.
Johnny Weir and Gus Kenworthy, for instance, are two gay male athletes from America who have gone to the Winter Olympics but were in the closet while doing it.
But this year a change has happening. We now have our first openly gay US man going to the Winter Olympics, and his name is Adam Rippon.
Adam Rippon is a 28-year-old figure skater from Pennsylvania who was the US national champion in 2016.
He’ll be joined by Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou as the male figure skaters representing America in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Despite acknowledging being an openly gay athlete, Rippon doesn't want people to think that’s all he is.
“Being gay isn’t what defines me,” he once told GayStarNews, “but it’s a big part of who I am and I like to talk about my coming out because that’s when I started to own who I was as a person.”
“That’s what’s important, not the being gay part but at some point — gay or straight — you need to own who you are. You can’t be afraid of who you are or else you’re afraid of your own potential, and if you don’t own who you are then you can’t grow.”
He also added:
“A few weeks ago, I was asked in an interview … what was it like being a gay athlete in sports,” he said.
“And I said it’s exactly like being a straight athlete. Only with better eyebrows.”
There is one other openly gay male US athlete who might join Rippon in Korea. Gus Kenworthy is still waiting to be qualified for the Winter Olympics. While Kenworthy has been to the Winter Olympics before, this will be his first time going as an openly gay man.
In addition, Luger John Fennell was hoping to get a spot at the Winter Olympics, but a sled malfunction led to him missing qualification.