US gay skating sensation to boycott White House party

File Photo : Adam Rippon
IANS|13-Feb-2018 16:54

Pyeongchang (South Korea), Feb 13 : Gay skating sensation Adam Rippon has said he will boycott Team USA's visit to the White House following the Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.

The 28-year-old, who won a team bronze medal at his first Olympics on Sunday night, told the Daily Mail that he would give the traditional gathering a miss in protest against what he sees as homophobia among the country's leadership.

"No. I have no desire to go to the White House. But I would like to do something to help my community," Rippon said. 

Olympians are typically invited to the White House for a reception. Rippon said he would want to do "something positive and not just stay at home" during the traditional White House visit. 

Rippon also refused to meet US Vice President Mike Pence at the Olympics earlier this week as the latter is known for his profoundly conservative views on marriage equality and LGBT rights.

The skater had also criticised Pence in an interview for supporting "homosexual conversion therapy".

Speaking at a press conference in Pyeongchang on Tuesday, Rippon said he stood by his recent criticism of Pence's position on LGBT rights.

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"I have no problem about what I've said because I stand by it, but I think right now the Olympics are about Olympic competition," he said.

In January, Rippon condemned the decision to have Pence lead the 2018 US Olympic delegation to South Korea.

As Governor of Indiana, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers, citing religious freedom. 

He later signed an amendment that prevented the law from being used to discriminate against LGBT customers.

After Rippon turned down the meeting with Pence, the latter responded by tweeting a message to the skater, urging him not to let "fake news distract you". 

Rippon and fellow gay Olympian Gus Kenworthy later posted a selfie on Instagram with the caption "eat your heart out, Pence".

He later regretted his feud with the Vice President overshadowing the Olympics itself: "It's brought a lot of attention to my other teammates and I don't want it to distract from them."

"I don't want my Olympic experience being about Mike Pence," he said.