Gay Olympian rips pick of Pence to head US delegation

U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon ripped the White House’s selection of Vice President Mike Pence to lead the 2018 U.S. Olympic delegation to South Korea.

Rippon, the 2016 U.S. men’s figure skating champion, was selected for this year’s Olympics despite finishing fourth at the U.S. national championships. The 28-year-old is believed to be the first openly gay U.S. Winter Olympian.

When asked in a phone interview with the USA Today about Pence heading up the delegation, Rippon didn’t mince words.

“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?” Rippon said. “I’m not buying it.”

Rippon went on to say he didn’t want to meet Pence during the traditional meeting between the official delegation and U.S. athletes before the opening ceremony. However, he may miss that event anyway due to the team figure skating competition in PyeongChang.

“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” Rippon told USA Today. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”

Pence has frequently been criticized for a statement he made in 2000 on his congressional campaign website that stated “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

A spokesman for Pence denied in November 2016 that Pence supports the practice of gay conversion therapy and Pence’s press secretary emailed a statement to USA Today after its article was published saying the accusation is “totally false and has no basis in fact.”

Despite his strong words for Pence, Rippon did tell USA Today that he would consider the opportunity to meet Pence after competing at the Games. However, he recently has said he will not go to the White House for any post-Olympic event hosted by President Donald Trump.