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Why Adam Rippon’s “DWTS” win is a major victory for inclusivity


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Photo: Instagram/@adaripp

Adam Rippon captured our hearts even before he demonstrated his medal-worthy figure skating and woo-woo routines at the Olympics. It’s in part thanks to his hilarious social-media presence and his outspoken and unfiltered opinions about equality. Prior to leaving for the PyeongChang Games, Rippon, one of the first openly gay U.S. Olympic athletes (along with Gus Kenworthy), refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence since he is staunchly against Pence’s pro-conversion therapy views. And in his post-Olympics career, Rippon continues to break boundaries, most recently by becoming the first male figure skater to win the Mirrorball trophy on Dancing with the Stars.

“The Mirrorball has now taken on a new meaning. Someone like me is accepted and I feel loved.” —Adam Rippon

The figure skater participated in a special shortened season of DWTS that featured only professional athletes, including his fellow figure skaters Tonya Harding and Mirai Nagasu. During the four-week season, Rippon and his partner, professional dancer Jenna Johnson, constantly ranked high in the competition. During yesterday’s finale, the duo was finally named the winner of the coveted Mirrorball trophy.

Rippon’s win is particularly special because he is one of a limited number of openly gay athletes in a world where LGBTQ celebrities have become increasingly accepted but still face obstacles and prejudice. Before his final freestyle performance on DWTS, the skater said, “The Mirrorball has now taken on a new meaning. Someone like me is accepted and I feel loved.”

In speaking out about who he is, Rippon joins the ranks of Olympians like Aly Raisman, who use their public platform to empower those around them. Not to mention that having a role model like Rippon in the public eye adds a different type of diversity in to the celeb culture mix.

If the TV gods are listening, they’ll get Rippon into the upcoming season of Queer Eye.

For more performance advice from the athlete, check out the breathing exercises Rippon uses for his abs and how he deals with the butterflies.

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