'Eat Your Heart Out, Pence': Openly Gay Olympian Takes Jab at VP Pence Following Opening Ceremony - NBC New York
The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang

The 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang

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'Eat Your Heart Out, Pence': Openly Gay Olympian Takes Jab at VP Pence Following Opening Ceremony

"To have someone leading the delegation that’s, like, directly attacked the LGBT community ...,it just seems like a bad fit,” Gus Kenworthy said

    Winter Olympics PyeongChang 2018 Medal Count
    Country
    Total
    1
    Norway
    13121035
    2
    Canada
    108826
    3
    Germany
    137525
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    Freestyle skier and LGBT activist Gus Kenworthy told Ellen DeGeneres he's disappointed by the decision to have Vice President Mike Pence lead the U.S. delegation to the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, calling it a "strange choice."

    "To have someone leading the delegation that’s, like, directly attacked the LGBT community, and just a Cabinet in general that stands against us and has tried to do things to set us back, it just seems like a bad fit,” Kenworthy told "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" host in an interview set to air Monday.

    The silver medal-winning freeskier, along with figure skater Adam Rippon, are the first openly-gay U.S. men to ever compete at the Winter Games. Following the opening ceremony Kenworthy took to Instagram to take another pointed jab at Pence.

    Kenworthy noted the Olympics "are all about inclusion and people coming together," and the selection of Pence by an administration that has rolled back protections for LGBTQ people is not representative of those values.  

    Pence has been criticized by gay rights advocates over his long record of anti-LGBTQ policies and socially conservative views. As governor of Indiana, he passed one of the country's most restrictive "religious freedom" laws and during his first successful run for Congress in 2000 a statement on his website appeared to suggest funding for HIV programs should be directed instead to anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy, NBC News reported.  Pence has since denied that he supports gay conversion therapy, though advocates aren't convinced. 

    Pence also opposed the addition of sexual orientation to the federal hate crime law, attempted to alter Indiana’s state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, opposed President Barack Obama's decision to end "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and rejected the Obama administration's directive on transgender bathrooms.

    Kenworthy's comments mirror those made by Rippon, who has also condemned the White House's decision to select Pence to lead Team USA. In an interview with USA Today last month, Rippon, who came out publicly in October 2015, said he would decline to meet Pence in the traditional meet-and-greet between the delegation and the athletes ahead of the opening ceremony.

    “I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” Rippon told USA Today.

    A spokesperson for Pence said the vice president will be "enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang."

    On Monday, Pence’s office confirmed that Fred Warmbier will be his guest at the opening ceremony. Warmbier’s son Otto died last year days after his release from a North Korean prison, where he was jailed for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.

    The White House says Pence will stress U.S. commitment to stability in the region to leaders of South Korea and Japan during his time as leader of the delegation.

    Meanwhile, Kenworthy said he's excited to compete at this year's Olympics as an openly-gay man. He's even more excited to get on top of a different stage in South Korea. 

    "Everyone told me that there is truly karaoke everywhere in South Korea, and I live for karaoke," Kenworthy said.

    Asked what his go-to song is, Kenworthy replied, "Rhythm of Love" by Plain White T's.