Given the delicate nature of the United States' current political landscape, it's not much of a surprise that several American athletes heading to next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are using their platform to speak out on the country's current presidential administration.
A good percentage of those athletes are representatives of certain demographics that don't feel that they are protected under Donald Trump's policies, including many who are non-white or non-heterosexual. Multiple notable athletes -- including skiers Lindsey Vonn and Gus Kenworthy, who is openly gay -- haveif they are invited following the 2018 Games.
Now, another openly gay American athlete -- figure skater Adam Rippon -- is speaking out against the values of the current administration, but it's Vice President Mike Pence who is in his crosshairs.
It was announced last week that, a political tactic meant to send a message to the North Korean regime led by Kim Jong Un. But, regardless of the motivations, Rippon is not fond of being represented by Pence, who has been a prominent conservative voice in battles over marriage equality and gay rights over the years.
In a recent interview with USA Today, Rippon outlined why he doesn't particularly care to interact with Pence at all in Pyeongchang.
"If it were before my event, 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. I wouldn't go out of my way to meet somebody like that.
"I don't think he has a real concept of reality. To stand by some of the things that [President] Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he's a devout Christian man is completely contradictory. If he's okay with what's being said about people and Americans and foreigners and about different countries that are being called 's--tholes,' I think he should really go to church."
However, Rippon didn't completely shut down the idea of speaking with Pence. The figure skater said he wouldn't be opposed to sharing a dialogue with the VP after he's done competing, but only if it was an "open conversation."
"If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I'm finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation," Rippon said. "He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump. … But I don't think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn't stand for anything that I really believe in."
Rippon went on to praise the efforts of Barack Obama during his time as president, including his choice to include several openly-gay athletes in the delegation that led the United States at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Rippon called Obama's selections "very poignant," especially considering the strong anti-gay views and campaigns of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Despite Rippon being at odds with the Trump/Pence White House, the 28-year-old says he has no plans for demonstrations or protests against the current administration.
"I'm a U.S. athlete representing my country. I will continue to share my story, but I will participate in no form of protest," he said. "I'm representing myself and my country on the world stage. I have a lot of respect for this opportunity. What makes America great is that we're all so different. It's 2018 and being an openly gay man and an athlete, that is part of the face of America now."