From on-air dating requests to suggesting he needs a "rough top" during sex, the media is missing the point.
Adam Rippon was the first out gay male figure skater to participate in the Winter Olympics, but it seems the public isn’t as focused on that triumph as they are about his relationship status, publicly asking him out on dates during interviews and through Twitter feeds.
It’s one thing to be a sex symbol for the community and quite another to reduce this bronze medal winner into a gay dating charity case. Of course this all seems like a bit of fun, but any other celebrity reduced to constant requests for meetups in interviews, or focusing on the "sex" part of sexual orientation would not be acceptable. Can you imagine if that line of questioning were posed to a female athlete?
The focus on Rippon’s single status may have started when Sally Field tried to help her son meet the sports star in a highly publicized twitter request back in February. Field’s son Sam made an online marriage proposal to Adam to which she replied, ““Sam…he’s insanely pretty. Find a way…”
Then when Adam appeared on Watch What Happens Live after his Olympic win, the interview again swung around to Adam’s dating “type,” he said simply he likes guys that go to the gym and have a job. That’s an honest answer, move on. But the guest seated next to him, Real Housewife Brandi Glanville, interjected saying Adam needed a “rough top,” to which host Andy Cohen laughed at and co-signed.
Adam looked a bit uncomfortable.
Then, this past Wednesday, E! Daily Pop host Justin Sylvester, after his co-host asked if Adam was dating, and Adam said he was too busy, went on the record with his proposal: “So I’m gonna throw this out there. When you come to L.A. I wanna take you out on a date, and grab drinks, your choice, or I can show you my L.A. and we can just kick it,” Sylvester said.
In Adam’s gracious perfunctory manner, he said he would love to; the female co-hosts laughing at the whole thing instructing the sportsman to don the harness he wore to the Oscars.
Again, all of this “gay single male attention” may be the price of fame for Adam; he is handsome, he is single and he is successful. But this type of media behavior would not be acceptable if the star was a history-making single female.
Think about it. Let’s imagine one of Adam’s female teammates was put under the same pressure. Every interview was not about the challenges of competing in the Winter Olympics, being a female in the sports world or what it takes to get there.
No. In fact, every interview constantly brought up the fact that this female sports star is single, Talk show hosts and guests suggest she requires rough sex, and male interviewers harass her by asking her out on dates to millions of people then add she should wear sexy clothes on that date.
That would not go over very well. But in the case of Adam Rippon, it’s okay. And frankly, I worry because Adam seems to have been thrust into the worldwide spotlight very quickly and may not know how to tell people to stop.
Just a few days ago, Adam himself may have started asking people to focus on other things.
“Since being back, I get a lot of DMs on Instagram. Some being super nice and some being just like, 'Hey,' and then three days later... dick pic,” he said in a Thrillist interview.
“Which I think is, like, an interesting route to go. But I applaud the brazen attempt. And I mean, I enjoy it, so thank you. But I think that right now I have so much going on that I'm not really looking for anybody. But I'm meeting so many new people that I'm hopeful that I'll just kind of run into somebody.”
Did everyone get that? Adam wants to meet that special someone on his own terms—when he’s ready.
The media should be taking this opportunity to explore this historical LGBT figure in other ways.
They should be emphasizing the intellectual part of Adam, asking about that articulate denial of meeting with Vice President Pence? Or how his participating in the Olympics is helping LGBT youth? What was it like to work with the other history-making gay sportsman Gus Kenworthy? Did they experience any prejudice either in the arena or in PyeongChang itself? Where there any LGBT sportspersons who inspired Adam as a child? Is there any advice he would give to people who are afraid to come out?
These are all questions and opinions I'd want to know about Adam as a historic sports figure. And I am sure to some degree Adam would like to answer them, but how can he when his airtime is eaten up by media "professionals" focusing on getting him or themselves laid?
These are modern times, yes, and maybe the fast-paced click-bait style of modern journalism takes precedence over history-making civil figures and their impact on the communities they represent.
It is my opinion, in this political climate, that we need to use the voices of LGBT heroes such as Adam's to give our community a foundation based on inspiration, not titillation.
It's clear that Adam will answer any question thrown at him, but he's not getting a chance to respond to ones that really matter, and that's a shame because we could really use some inspiration right now.