The 28-year-old figure skater told Ellen DeGeneres during an appearance on her show Thursday that his Olympic experience has completely altered his life — shooting him to international fame and giving him an online friendship with Reese Witherspoon. But even though he finally achieved a dream he’d been working toward for over a decade, Rippon says he’s still the same at heart.
“I’m still old hot mess I was ten years ago,” he says. “But I’m still that same person. My life has completely changed, but at the core, I’m still that same old disaster.”
But now, he’s a “disaster” with a major platform: “to give a voice to people who feel like they don’t have one.”
First up, he’s partnering with GLAAD’s Youth Engagement Program. He says that he wishes he had more successful LGBT role models in his life as a kid, and he hopes this program will provide it to the next generation.
“When I was young, to have somebody out there that I could have looked up to, it would have made a world of difference,” he says. “It would have changed my life.”
“To have these young kids going out there and changing the world, I said, ‘this is something I need to be a part of,’ ” he says.
Rippon also spilled some details about his own childhood — and why he believes everyone in his life should have realized he was gay from the start.
“I had a goldfish named Princess Diana,” he says. “That should be have been the writing on the wall for me. I also had a goldfish named “diaria”, spelled ‘diarrhea.’ “
“It’s a family name,” he quipped.
Rippon also talked about his past interactions with Vice President Mike Pence, which included a phone call to Rippon from Pence’s office that he chose not to take ahead of the Olympics. If Pence reached out again, Rippon says he still has “nothing to say” to Pence. Instead, he believes that call would be better served if it was between Pence and LGBT youth who have been impacted by his policies.
“If that call were to happen, I would say, you know what, it’s not for me,” he says. “It’s for the people, their lives have been affected and changed by legislation that he’s pushed. It’s a chance for them to share their stories and their experiences. It’s not for me.”
As per usual, Rippon kept the audience laughing, even when discussing his work with GLAAD. Citing the statistic that one in five young people identify as part of the LGBT community, he went on to say: “Look to your left, look to your right. And if nobody is gay, you’re probably the one.”
He also dished to DeGeneres about his romantic interests, revealing that he used to have a celebrity crush on Harry Styles, but has since moved on to Jake Gyllenhaal.
“I was sleeping on Shawn Mendes — not with,” he said with a sly smile. “I didn’t realize how cute he was. I know Harry will be upset.”