Johnny Weir Explains Why He Never Came Out While Skating, Praises Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy

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Two-time Olympian Johnny Weir had nothing but praise for openly gay athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics — while simultaneously explaining why he was not publicly “out” during his time in competition.

The 33-year-old figure skater took to Twitter on Thursday to celebrate the courage of those athletes.

His message included applause for fellow figure skater Adam Rippon, who made history earlier this month when he became the first openly gay U.S. Winter Olympian, and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who will know later this month if he has qualified. (Both men came out in 2015.)

“I am so thrilled that there are out representatives of the LGBTQ community competing at the Olympic Games. Notably, @guskenworthy & @Adaripp among others,” Weir wrote. “It is very brave for all of us to live our truths whether on the global stage or in our own homes.”

Johnny Weir
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As Rippon and Kenworthy have captured headlines, fans have questioned why Weir isn’t referred to as “out” during his Olympic showings. But as he reveals on Twitter Thursday, he wasn’t out “in the traditional sense.”

“I wear my sexuality the same as I wear my sex or my skin color,” he said. “It is something that simply is and something I was born into. I never “came out” in sport because I didn’t imagine it as a great secret & it had nothing to do with my skating or my dreams.”

“I was extremely lucky to grow up in a family/community of acceptance and perhaps that’s why I don’t see my sexuality as something that needs addressing,” he added. “I am forever indebted however, to the warriors who came before me that allow me to lead the life I do so openly.”

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Rippon, 28, will join Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou on Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Previously, Rippon was an alternate for Team USA at the 2010 Games.

Rippon tells PEOPLE he reached even more success in skating since coming out.

“Sharing my story in 2015, I remember thinking if just one person hears this and reads it and it makes them feel like they aren’t alone, that would be awesome,” he says. “Now to be headed to the Olympics, my story now has a bigger platform and I’ve heard from so many different kinds of people and so many people that it’s really awesome, it’s so amazing and it makes me feel like coming out — it was way more important than I even realized.”

If he qualifies, Kenworthy, 26, would also return to the Games after earning a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Since coming out in 2015, he’s continued to earn accolades on the snow, including two silver medals at the 2016 Winter X Games and the runner-up spot at the 2017 International Ski Federation Freestyle Ski World Championships.

“I have the LGBT audience behind me and there’s all these people that I want to make proud and I want to do well aside from just myself, and so I feel like I’ve got a little bit more on my shoulders,” he told PEOPLE of heading back to the Olympics. “But I also think that I do well under pressure so I’m hoping that that is a good thing for me and it’s all good influences.”

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Meanwhile, Weir will be at the Olympics too this year, commentating for NBC’s primetime figure skating coverage alongside fellow Olympian Tara Lipinski.

This is the first time that the duo will provide Olympic commentary for the NBC Sports primetime booth, though the BFFs have gained popularity for their on-screen compatibility, straightforward commentary, and their fashion sense.

When we get there combined it’s like twenty-something suitcases,” Lipinski, 35, revealed during a recent visit to PEOPLE Now.

“We’re going to bring everything, we’re going to bring every shoe that we own,” Weir continued. “Tara’s lucky because her clothes are about [small] when folded. I mean, I’ve got big man sweaters.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics will air live starting Feb. 8. To learn more, visit teamusa.org.

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