We're just a few days into the 2018 Winter Olympics and, no matter which athletes you're looking forward to seeing take home the gold, there are two fans favorites who are already generating a lot of buzz. Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy are the only openly gay male American athletes competing in the 2018 PyeongChang Games this year, and they're both getting a lot of praise for the powerful statements they're making about their participation in this month's events.
Rippon and Kenworthy have taken to social media on multiple occasions to celebrate being the first openly gay male athletes participating in the Olympics. On Friday, Rippon took to Instagram to post a photo of himself and Kenworthy ahead of the Opening Ceremony.
"Tonight I walked in the #OpeningCeremony and got to watch my old friend @yunakim light the Olympic flame," Rippon wrote in the photo's caption, sliding in a shoutout to South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim. "Representing the USA is one of the greatest honors of my life and being able to do it as my authentic self makes it all so much sweeter."
Likewise, Kenworthy later took to Twitter to share a series of photos celebrating the occasion. "We're here. We're queer. Get used to it," he wrote alongside three photos of himself and Rippon wearing matching outfits.
Needless to say, this new friendship between the two athletes is bringing people a lot of joy.
Like, a lot.
Rippon is a figure skater who made headlines before the games even started this year after having strong words for U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. He turned down a meeting with the politician over his anti-LGBTQ beliefs ahead of the events, and before that he questioned the decision to have Pence lead the Olympic delegation.
"You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I'm not buying it," he told USA Today.
On Feb. 7, Pence tweeted the following in response:
This is the 28-year-old's first time competing in the Olympics. He tried to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team back in 2010, and again in 2014, though he didn't failed to make it both times. Just as he considered giving up, a fellow skater's courage to speak out against anti-gay laws in Russia during the 2014 Winter Games inspired him to keep pushing. Fast forward to 2018, and he's making his way to the games with a lot of anticipation from fans.
Meanwhile, Kenworthy is a 26-year-old freestyle skier who's also publicly criticized Mike Pence, similarly criticizing the U.S.'s decision to have the VP lead the delegation. This'll be his second time competing in the Olympics — he competed in Sochi back in 2014 and took home a silver medal.
Their presence at the events in PyeongChang this year have generated a lot of excitement from fans, but their lesser known followers on social media aren't the only ones showing the athletes praise. Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton wished the pair good luck last week at the 2018 Makers Conference, expressing her excitement to see them compete.
"I love the Winter Olympics. I love the athleticism and the stories of our athletes, and I'm excited that Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy will be the first openly gay Olympians. So I'm going to be there cheering them on," Clinton said, according to AOL.
The bond between these two is heartwarming to see, but what makes it even more special is seeing the outpouring of support that they're both receiving from fans and fellow athletes. This is an exciting time for both Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy to be competing in the Winter Olympics, and hopefully their new friendship and personal stories will inspire younger athletes to take pride in their sexual identities.
Correction: A previous headline called Rippon and Kenworthy the only openly gay American athletes at this year's Olympics. It has been updated for accuracy, in addition to the text of the article.