Adam Rippon, the gay Olympic figure skater who has been sharply critical of Mike Pence, turned down an offer to meet with the vice president, who is leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympics in South Korea.
Pence was upset about Rippon’s criticism of him; Rippon last month said the vice president was a bad choice to lead the delegation, as Pence had endorsed so-called conversion therapy, a discredited and often harmful practice that seeks to turn gay people straight. A spokeswoman for Pence denied that he ever had supported the practice, but in reality, he had taken stands that could be construed that way — in his 2000 campaign for Congress, he had proposed funding groups that help people “change their sexual behavior” to fight the spread of HIV. Pence has taken several other anti-LGBT positions as a congressman, as governor of Indiana, and as vice president.
Pence “was so concerned about the criticism” from Rippon “that his staff went to the extraordinary length of asking the U.S. Olympic Committee to set up a conversation between the two — an offer Rippon turned down,” reports USA Today, which broke the initial story as well.
USA Today cited anonymous sources in the latest story, published Wednesday, but Rippon’s agent, David Baden, said Rippon would have no further comment, and Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, did not respond to the paper’s request for comment.
Rippon has been sharply critical of Donald Trump as well as Pence. “I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up,” he told USA Today in January. “Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.” He had said he might be open to meeting Pence after the Olympics, but he will not go to the post-Olympics event hosted by Trump at the White House.
Rippon, who came out in 2015, became the first openly gay figure skater to represent the U.S. at the Olympics when he made the team this year. Whether or not he wanted to meet Pence, he may miss the meet-and-greet between the U.S. delegation and athletes just before Friday’s the opening ceremony to participate in the ream figure skating event, USA Today notes.