American figure skater Adam Rippon was asked this week whether he would attend a future visit by the U.S. Winter Olympic team to the White House — his answer was firm.
“No, I have no desire to go to the White House,” Rippon said to The Daily Mail.
Rippon, 28, who along with skiier Gus Kenworthy, is the first openly gay athlete representing the U.S. at the Winter Olympics. Rippon said he would skip the customary post-Olympic games visit to the White House in order to “support my community.”
That said, Rippon specified that he would instead do “something positive and not just stay at home” during the visit — possibly planning his own gay rights event.
Rippon previously clashed with the Trump administration after Vice President Mike Pence was selected to lead the American delegation. In an interview, Rippon called out Pence for his noted anti-gay views and policies, noting that the vice president “doesn’t really stand for anything that I really believe in.”
After the interview, Pence reportedly sought a meeting with Rippon, which the figure skater reportedly refused — and afterward took to Twitter to defend his position.
I personally have nothing to say to Mike Pence. Given the chance to talk after the Olympics, I would want to bring with me people who’s lives have been hurt by legislation he has championed.
— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) January 20, 2018
Pence tweeted out support for Rippon, blaming “fake news” for the media dust-up.
“@Adaripp I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you,” Pence tweeted. “I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!”
.@Adaripp I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 8, 2018
Rippon won a bronze medal at the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, becoming the first openly gay American Winter Olympian to do so. Kenworthy, meanwhile, is competing in his second Olympics — he won a silver medal the first time around — but this is his first since coming out.