Great things come in pairs, and Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy keep proving that theory over and over. This past weekend, Kenworthy was the one to introduce Rippon at the Human Rights Campaign gala in Los Angeles, where the Olympic figure skater was presented with the organization's’ Visibility Award.
“Tonight’s honoree is incredible. He is an absolute inspiration to me, and over the last few months his skating has won over the world,” said Kenworthy, who got his own HRC Visibility Award in 2017. “Along the way he has helped cut a path for young people to see that being your true self is the best way to live.”
Rippon, for his part, was every bit the funny, snarky presence that dazzled the Olympic audience on and off the ice in Pyeongchang. After invoking his mother and congresswoman Maxine Waters for some early laughs, Rippon shared his struggles with coming out and finding the inner strength to be honest with himself and those close to him.
“When I was little I used to care so much about what others thought of me. I was mindful of the way I dressed, my mannerisms, the way i talked. I was afraid people would think I was weak. I was afraid of making mistakes. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be welcomed by the LGBTQ community because someone like me wouldn’t be the role model they were looking for. Maybe I was too gay and maybe I was just too myself.”
Now, finding himself thrust into the spotlight, Rippon has shed his falsely founded fears and shared a message for children that may be in a similar place as he was at their age. “You hold more strength than you may ever know. You are powerful,” he said. “No matter where you have come from or where you are going, there is someone who looks up to you and they will find inspiration in your strength of just being yourself.” Watch, below.