It’s already a win for openly gay athletes Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon, both of whom represented the United States at the Winter Olympics 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. After the opening ceremony of the games, the couple took to Instagram and express how honored they are to be representing the LGBTQ community and quickly clapped back at U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who is also in Pyeongchang for the event.
Skier Kenworthy and figure skater Rippon posed for a photo during the Winter Olympics 2018 opening ceremony, which they shared to their followers on Instagram. Kenworthy wrote that they feel “incredibly honored” to be in South Korea competing for the U.S. and representing the LGBTQ community. He also wrote a short message to Pence, who signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when he was still governor of Indiana.
“Eat your heart out, Pence.”
The mentioned law allowed businesses to refuse services to gay and lesbian customers on the ground of religious freedom. After critical backlash, Pence then signed an amendment to the law to prevent it from being used as a tool to discriminate LGBTQ customers.
Rippon, on the other hand, has been critical of Pence’s position on LGBTQ rights. Before the games, Rippon criticized the White House’s decision to have Pence lead the U.S. Olympic delegation in South Korea. He particularly spoke against Pence’s alleged support for gay conversion therapy, a practice that is said to turn gay people straight through religious methods.
The #OpeningCeremony is a wrap and the 2018 Winter Olympic Gaymes are officially under way! I feel incredibly honored to be here in Korea competing for the US and I'm so proud to be representing the LGBTQ community alongside this amazing guy! Eat your heart out, Pence. #TeamUSA #TeamUSGay ????????????️????
Speaking to USA Today, Rippon said that he will not meet with Pence before his event, adding that he will not go out of his way to meet someone who not only showed “that they aren’t a friend of a gay person” but think that they are “sick.”
In response to Rippon’s statements, Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah said the vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation and that the accusation thrown at him by Rippon are “totally false” and baseless.
Meanwhile, Pence is being criticized for his behavior at the games and his refusal to stand as a unified Korean team marched during the opening ceremony. According to Time, Pence also arrive late to a VIP reception for delegation leaders before Winter Olympics 2018 opening ceremony and only stayed for 5 minutes. There was also no interaction between him and delegates from North Korea.
Meanwhile, Rippon also said that he will not go to a post-Olympic celebration hosted by Trump at the White House. Skier Lindsay Vonn also declared she will not be attending as well.