U.S. Olympic slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy used the occasion of breaking his thumb in training earlier this week to take a shot at Vice President Mike Pence.
Kenworthy, who is openly gay, has repeatedly spoken out against Pence. The vice president led the U.S. delegation to Pyeongchang, South Korea and was on hand for the opening ceremony last week.
Kenworthy, along with figure skater Adam Rippon (also gay), has pointed to positions taken by Pence and the Trump administration as reasons to target him in social media and interviews with the press.
“Broke my thumb yesterday in practice,” Kenworthy tweeted on Thursday. “It won’t stop me from competing (obvi) but it does prevent me from shaking Pence’s hand so… Silver linings! Will be giving my teammates (and literally everyone else) an enthusiastic ‘thumbs up!’ of encouragement the rest of the trip.”
One responded to Kenworthy’s tweet writing, “Your choice. You can live life in the sand box or you can rise above political nonsense and be an adult.”
Another added, “Jesus, I don’t like that dude very much, but you guys are ridiculously obsessed with him. There’s not even any evidence he is anti-gay.”
“Tell that to the gay residents of the state of Indiana, I am one! His policies enacted here were awful and are still having an effect after his departure,” one answered in response.
While Indiana’s governor, Pence supported the passage of the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows individuals or businesses to assert as a legal defense the infringement of the free exercise of their faith. One foreseeable use of the defense would be laws involving non-discrimination rights for the LGBTQ community.
Similar legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and 21 states have RFRA laws.
After Indiana experienced significant backlash (including threats of boycotts from major corporations and organizations) following Pence’s signing of the RFRA law in March 2015, the then-governor affixed his signature to an amendment, which made clear that businesses in the Hoosier State could not discriminate against any in the LGBT community.
Kenworthy took to Twitter later on Thursday to respond to one person who wrote him, “Your obsession with Pence is creepy,” replying, “This was literally my first tweet ever that mentioned him.”
What Kenworthy did not communicate is that he also wrote about Pence in an Instagram picture with Rippon from the opening ceremony.
“I feel incredibly honored to be here in Korea competing for the US and I’m so proud to be representing the LGBTQ community alongside this amazing guy! Eat your heart out, Pence. #TeamUSA #TeamUSGay,” he scribed.
In an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show before the games, Kenworthy said, Pence is a “bad fit” for the Olympic delegation.
“[Pence] seems like such a strange choice,” Kenworthy said. “To have somebody leading the delegation that’s directly attacked the LGBTQ community, and a Cabinet in general that just sort of stands against us and has tried to do things to set us back, it just seems like a bad fit.”
Rippon made headlines last week when he refused to meet with Pence.
He told CNN that he lamented that the fight he picked with the vice president was overshadowing his participation in the games.
“I don’t want my Olympic experience being about Mike Pence,” Rippon said, which prompted Donald Trump Jr. to respond that “perhaps you shouldn’t have spent the past few weeks talking about him.”
Trump added, “I haven’t heard him mention you once.”
Pence, for his part, took the high road, wishing Rippon well in the Olympics.
“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!” Pence wrote.
U.S. figure skaters won the bronze in the team event on last Sunday.
Rippon finished 10th in the men’s individual competition on Saturday.
Kenworthy placed 12th in the slopestyle competition on Sunday, while teammate Nick Goepper, who happens to hail from Indiana, took home the silver medal.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.