In case you’ve been living in a box for the last two years, Rippon stole the show at the 2018 Winter Olympics with his fun personality, pointed political commentary and a figure skating performance in the team competition that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
So it’s not a big surprise that Rippon might pen, in conjunction with writer Brian Moylan, an account of his life’s journey to date. And while the “life story” of a millennial might not seem like “War and Peace,” for Rippon it was an important bridge between his life then and now.
“Twenty-nine is a little young to write a memoir,” he told me, “but I really wanted to write about my whole life because it was a big chapter ending and something new beginning. It was like therapy for me.”
The Olympian has largely put his figure skating in the past, focusing on becoming a media sensation, whether it’s Dancing With the Stars, interviewing stars for Nightline, or finding other outlets for his thoughtful mind and glittery personality.
Rippon reveals a lot throughout his new book. One of the most engaging parts of the story for me was reading about his coming-out process. We’ve heard coming-out stories a million times, and Rippon’s isn’t much different from most.
Yet the idea that a gay figure skater might have a hard time coming out reinforced the “told-ya-so” dynamic that frightens gay men in “gay” (heavy quotes) sports like figure skating and gymnastics, as well as lesbians across women’s sports.
The one thing I didn’t want was to be gay. My family was always accepting of gay people, I knew gay people growing up, and I certainly worked with some in figure skating. But I always thought, “That’s not me. It just can’t be me. I can’t be this thing that people made fun of me for when I was little. I can’t be this thing that I know isn’t accepted in my area.” ...
I also had some irrational fears about coming out. I always thought that once I did, I would get beaten up, which has never happened.
This all resonated with me and my experience, being teased as gay as a 9-year-old and rejecting it, then realizing as a teenager it might be true.
While the book is revealing of so much of Rippon’s life, there was one very personal area of his life’s journey that gave him pause before sharing.
“The only hesitation I had was when I talked about my mom,” he said. “We went through some hard times, and I think my mom is an incredible mom and it was hard to write about those situations. But it’s important to our story and how we grew. It shows what an awesome mom she is.”
The most painful part of the book came in the same chapter. Rippon talks about his “first” brief romance. “Scotty” is the guy’s psuedonym, and Rippon was head-over-heals for him.
I won’t spill spoilers, but Rippon shares the story about Scotty in raw, vulnerable words that still echo in my mind.
“I didn’t feel worthy or deserving of the attention of somebody else in that way,” Rippon told me. “It felt like something I had blocked myself from so long that tapping into it, I didn’t know if I should be doing it. I was really conflicted because I felt like maybe what I was doing was wrong. And then it ended in this abrupt way.”
The memoir also gets into a lot of the juicy parts of his public life, including his “spat” with Vice President Mike Pence, meeting Gus Kenworthy for the first time, and what he could possibly do with all of those condoms available to the athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
I recommend you get a copy of Adam Rippon’s ‘Beautiful On The Outside,’ as well as listen to my interview with the dynamic Olympian. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to go to the Olympics. Check it out.
You can order ‘Beautiful On The Outside’ on Amazon, and you can find it in bookstores everywhere.
If you’re interested in meeting Adam, he’ll be reading from Beautiful On The Outside at the Miami Book Fair on Nov. 23.