Every Way Adam Rippon Has Inspired Us This Year

Few people have had a better start to 2018 than Adam Rippon. The 28-year-old figure skater was one of the breakout stars of the 2018 Winter Olympics, making a major impression on social media. Since his Olympics debut, Rippon has gone to the Oscars, received an award from the Human Rights Campaign, and declared his love for Legally Blonde to Reese Witherspoon on The Late Show.

In addition to making us laugh with his hilarious tweets and TV appearances, Rippon also inspires us. He made history at the Winter Olympics, and his presence there will likely embolden thousands of young people who now look up to him.

Here are some of the ways in which Rippon has inspired us in 2018.

1. He became the first openly gay U.S. figure skater to compete in the Winter Olympics

Adam Rippon competes in the Men's Short Program.
He made history. | Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Just by going to the Olympics at all, Adam Rippon was already making history. After all, he became the first openly gay U.S. figure skater to compete in the Winter Olympics.

Rippon came out as gay in October 2015 by speaking with SKATING Magazine. “Being gay is not something that defines me,” he said. “What defines me is what my mom always taught me: to treat everyone with respect, to always be a hard worker and to be kind. Those are the things that define me.”

Rippon later explained that he was inspired to come out after the passing of Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda” law and after seeing athletes ignoring the issue at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Next: Rippon took this stand on an issue he cares about.

2. He called out Mike Pence and took a stand against gay conversion therapy

Adam Rippon on the skating rink.
He wasn’t afraid to get political during the Olympics. | Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Rippon could have attempted to steer clear of politics while gaining popularity at the 2018 Winter Olympics, not wanting to alienate any of his fans. But instead, Rippon stood up for what he believes in.

Namely, Rippon called out Vice President Mike Pence for once supporting the use of federal funding to treat people “seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

When interviewed for The USA Today and asked how he felt about Pence leading the U.S. delegation to Pyeongchang, Rippon said, “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it.”

In subsequent weeks, Rippon also called out Pence for his record on other issues related to the LGBT community, such as not allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military.

Next: Rippon surprised some people by also saying this about Mike Pence.

3. He said he would meet with Pence, despite disagreeing with him

Adam Rippon speaking at a press conference.
He’s taking a stand. |Chris Graythen/Getty Images

After Rippon called Pence out, he declined an invitation to meet with the vice president. This gained a lot of attention at the time, though Rippon says he only declined the meeting because he was busy getting ready for the Olympics.

Now, however, Rippon has said that he would meet with Pence. This is despite the fact that he strongly disagrees with him on issues, especially when it comes to gay rights.

“I agree with so many people that you don’t get to make any sort of change if you don’t try to at least reach across and have the opportunity to speak,” Rippon told CNN. “I’m making it clear that I would really like to have that conversation because I still have that Olympics platform and I’d like to use it.”

Rippon has indicated that he wouldn’t want to meet with President Trump, though, due to the way that Trump has demeaned women.

Next: Rippon had this to say when people told him they hope he fails.

4. He delivered an inspiring message about failure as he was being criticized

Adam Rippon's tweet.
He sent out a message for those wishing him ill. | Adam Rippon via Twitter

Rippon received a lot of hate on Twitter during the 2018 Winter Olympics, especially after he called out the vice president. But instead of getting riled up about all of this hate, Rippon delivered a hopeful message.

In a tweet, Rippon specifically responded to people telling him that they hope he fails, saying that he has already failed many times but has learned from these setbacks.

Next: Rippon revealed that he struggled with an eating disorder not that long ago.

5. He opened up about struggling with an eating disorder

Adam Rippon skating on ice.
He opened up about his body image struggles. | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In an interview with The New York Times published in February, Rippon opened up about how body image issues have affected him. Rippon said that it wasn’t that long ago, in 2016, when he was eating nothing but three slices of whole grain bread and coffee every day. As he was doing so, he got a stress fracture, and he told The Times he thinks this was partially because he wasn’t getting enough nutrients.

In a separate interview with NBC News, Rippon said he felt pressure to adhere to this extreme diet because other athletes were far thinner than him. “I knew what I was doing was wrong, but at the same time I was thinking, ‘well, nobody really understands, I’ve got to do what it takes,’” he said.

Rippon said that he subsequently started working with a sports dietitian, and suddenly, he wasn’t tired all the time. Since working with a dietitian, he gained 10 pounds, and he is now much healthier.

Next: Rippon achieved this feat at the Winter Olympics.

6. He won a bronze medal at the Winter Olympics

Adam Rippon and his bronze medal.
Adam Rippon took home a bronze medal. | Marianna Massey/Getty Images

Much to the chagrin of some haters on Twitter, Rippon did not, in fact, fail at the Winter Olympics. Instead, he helped the U.S. take home a bronze medal in the figure skating team event.

He came in less than one point behind Mikhail Kolyada, the Russian skater who won the silver medal. On Twitter, Rippon’s fans couldn’t believe that he only came in third. “I can’t control the score,” Rippon said after the competition. “But to the people that were distressed — I hope maybe you can be on a judging panel someday.”

Rippon took the fact that he didn’t win the silver or the gold medal in stride, though, and he has been able to laugh about it. When Hoda Kotb asked him on Today who has had a better Olympics than him, Rippon shot back, “Maybe somebody who actually won them?”

Next: Rippon recently delivered an inspiring speech after accepting an award.

7. When he delivered a powerful speech at the Human Rights Campaign gala

Adam Rippon holding his award.
His speech was inspiring. | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Rippon was recently honored with the Visibility Award by the Human Rights Campaign, and he delivered an emotional speech. In it, Rippon talked about the fact that his life changed when he made the decision to be unafraid and not care what others thought of him.

He implored young people who look up to him to make this same choice, saying:

To all the young kids out there, whether you are gay, straight, bi, trans or still on a journey of self-discovery, whether you are white, black, or any color in between, you are smarter than you think. You hold more strength than you may ever know. You are powerful. No matter where you have come from or where you are going to, there is someone who looks up to you, and they will find inspiration in your strength of just being yourself.

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