U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon shared an important message with viewers of a popular TV show, a message aimed at closeted LGBTQ youth: “Go after your dreams.”
Rippon joinedABC news anchor John Quiñones for a segment of this week’s episode of “What Would You Do?” Producers of the thought-provoking program, which has previously tackled both transphobia and homophobia, invited him to witness a fictional scenario.
It’s set in a diner, and involves a high school baseball player who finally finds the courage to tell his coach that he’s gay. Fellow diners, unaware they are being recorded, cannot help but overhear as the player bravely reveals his plans to come out to his teammates.
But for the purpose of this reality show drama, the coach advises the student not to come out, telling him doing so would ruin his chances to play baseball in the pros. Then he steps away, and that’s when the drama begins, as diners offer advice to the young gay man.
For Rippon, the scenario provoked an emotional reaction. He came out publicly in 2015. In 2018, he was first openly gay male athlete to make a U.S. Winter Olympic team. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, he skated his way to a bronze medal and into the hearts of America.
He’s also been a loud, proud and fierce advocate for LGBTQ rights. He considers doing a show on this subject, and sharing his own story, as a duty. “It was something that I talked about with my friends and family and no one had a clear answer of what the right move would be. But for me, I felt like I needed to do it,” Rippon told Quiñones in an interview behind the scenes. “I remember being that young kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania who thought it would be a secret forever. I thought I owed it to that kid to say something. If I had a role model when I was younger, I could have saved myself a lot of grief.”