Being gay used to be a powerful counter-culture thing decades ago, but nowadays it seems the shock value of being homosexual is pretty much all but dissipated. A man announcing he’s gay in today’s society is worth about a shrug, right before we go back to doing whatever was far more interesting before…like pretty much anything.
Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon, two gay men participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics, however, seem to believe themselves to be special due to their homosexuality. Furthermore, they seem to believe that many people are aghast at this, particularly vice-President Mike Pence, whom Kenworthy and Rippon use their platform to denounce regularly.
Taking a picture for Instagram, Kenworthy said he’s happy to be representing the USA in the Olympics alongside Rippon, representing the LGBT community. That’s all well and good up until the end when Kenworthy ends his celebratory photo with “eat your heart out, Pence.”
Weird thing is, Pence was all for the men competing, and publicly cheered them on.
.@Adaripp I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 8, 2018
Just to make sure you knew they were gay Olympians, Kenworthy posted more pictures, this time to Twitter, telling us that they’re here, queer, and to get used to it.
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 9, 2018
With these unnecessary posts from Kenworthy, the two men turned their sports expedition into a political one, and every action they had there was tainted with it. It didn’t help that a deluge of media fawning heaped onto Kenworthy and Rippon accompanied the post, with a story circulating about Pence trying to arrange a meeting with Rippon that the Pence camp completely denied as “fake news.”
Rippon accused Pence publicly of trying to push “gay conversion therapy,” supposedly a stance of Pence’s popularized by the mainstream media that involves a type of electro-shock therapy that has been denounced by the medical community at large. This is, of course, absolute nonsense. Pence himself is against that kind of treatment, and the only thing he ever pushed was federal funding for treatments for those who wish to change their sexual interests. Even Snopes admits this.
Regardless of the truth, Rippon told the media he has no interest in meeting Pence, causing them to froth at the mouth. Rippon is now saying he’s going to boycott the Olympian White House visit and may hold his own event for the sake of his “community.”
The amount of politicization here is just silly, and more importantly, wasteful. At no point did Pence put down the athletes because of their sexuality. In fact, he cheered them on. Now, instead of focusing on the talents they worked hard to achieve, they’ve used games to push their politics on others and to bash their political enemies.
It seems to them, their sport was just the ticket to the political platform from which they now grandstand.
But Kenworthy’s declaration that we should all get used to the idea of gay men competing in the Olympics is something we’re very much used to already. Despite Kenworthy and Rippon being declared the first openly gay competitors for this or that, they aren’t the first openly gay people to compete in the Olympics, and they won’t be the last.
Gay people are about as common as gray on a rat in today’s society. Gay people at the Olympics doesn’t move the shock needle one iota for the majority of us, and it certainly doesn’t seem to bother Pence. Hell, like many people, I spent the majority of my life assuming most male figure skaters were gay.
The bottom line is that being gay doesn’t make you special, it makes you gay. It doesn’t make you a cultural mouthpiece for the western world, nor does it make you a mouthpiece for the LGBT community at large. It’s a diverse crowd with diverse opinions, and I know too many who roll their eyes so hard at the behavior of people like Kenworthy and Rippon that they nearly fall out of their sockets.
Outrage about gay outrage is old hat. Kenworthy needs to understand that we are used to it, and that’s all thanks to braver people who came before him. He and Rippon are nothing special, just two more dudes patting themselves on the back for their identity politics while they attempt to paint their political rivals as evil.
You’re gay. Get over it.