Adam Rippon Recalls Coming Out at HRC Gala: “Most Liberating Experience of My Life”

Adam Rippon HRC Gala - Getty - H 2018
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The Olympic figure skater was honored with the Visibility Award at the annual event.

Adam Rippon continued charming his way through Hollywood last night when he was honored by the Human Rights Campaign at their annual gala held this year at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Los Angeles. 

The Olympic figure skater was presented with the LGBTQ rights organization’s Visibility Award by fellow Olympian Gus Kenworthy and in his speech, he shared his story of coming out as gay. “I can remember the first time I shared with someone I was gay and I could feel this huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders,” Rippon, 28, said. “I felt reborn. I like to talk about my coming out because coming out has been the most liberating experience of my life.

“I hope that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, has their own coming-out experience. When you can share who you are with the world, you will find great power.”

Rippon recalled being a young kid coming to terms with his sexuality. “When I was little I used to care so much about what others thought of me,” he said. “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.”

And an appearance by Rippon wouldn’t be complete without some laughs. Before delivering his prepared remarks, Rippon said he had just received a text from his mom with a photo of him and Rep. Maxine Waters that the two had taken together at the gala earlier in the evening. “She sent me the picture and she said, ‘My hero,’” Rippon said. “And I texted my mom back and said, ‘Which one?’ And then she texted me back and she said, ‘Good luck with your speech tonight.’

“So, Maxine Waters, thank you for all that you do, including stealing my mother’s love,” he said. “They say never meet your heroes.”

In presenting the award, Kentworthy told the crowd of more than 1,000 people that he and Rippon first met at this year’s Winter Olympics after becoming friends on Instagram. “Tonight’s honoree is incredible,” the freestyle skier said. “He’s an inspiration to me and over the past few months, his skating has won over the world. 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.”

Kentworthy praised Rippon for being “his true authentic self on and off the ice and in every TV interview,” before cracking, “If you haven’t seen one of his interviews yet, you must not own a TV because he’s literally f—king everywhere.”

Rep. Waters delivered a powerful speech during the gala, blasting President Donald Trump and his administration for their anti-LGBT rhetoric and policies. Earlier in the day, Trump attacked Waters for having a “low IQ” during a speech in Pennsylvania.

“Don’t forget this man who’s been disparaging me has been called stupid, ignorant, uninformed and unhinged and a moron by his own staff,” Waters said.

The California Democrat ended her almost 20-minute speech by praising the work of special counsel Robert Mueller. “In the final analysis, I think he’s going to get [Trump],” Waters said. “And if for some reason, he’s not able to get him, I’m counting on Stormy [Daniels] to do it.”

The annual gala also included remarks from HRC president Chad Griffin, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), The Fosters stars Teri Polo and Sherri Saum, trans activists Sarah McBride and Blossom Brown.

Josh Duhamel was on hand to present a clip from his new film Love, Simon, director Greg Berlanti’s upcoming movie about a gay high school senior who unexpectedly finds love while coming to terms with his sexuality. When Duhamel mentioned he played the high schooler’s father, more than one gala-goer excitedly shouted, “Daddy!”

Sally Field’s son Sam Greisman finally met Rippon, too. The Oscar winner famously suggested the two would make a good match in text messages that Greisman shared on Twitter. Greisman posted a photo of him and Rippon on Instagram last night with his caption reading, “Thanks mom.”

The guest list also included Queer Eye star Karamo Brown, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita, UnReal’s Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Lea DeLaria of Orange is the New Black, 13 Reasons Why’s Tommy Dorfman and his husband Peter Zurkuhlen, Charlie Carver, Peter Paige, Hal Sparks and Nyle DiMarco, among others.