Adam Rippon's Soaring Human Right's Campaign Speech: I Made 'The Choice to Be Unafraid'

Adam Rippon
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Adam Rippon celebrates as he is honored with the Visibilty Award during the Human Rights Campaign 2018 Los Angeles Dinner at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on March 10, 2018 in Los Angeles.

'I’ve learned that a champion is more than a medal. It’s a mindset.'

Adam Rippon delivered a speech as inspiring as his performances on the ice at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang when he took to the podium at the Human Rights Campaign’s gala in Los Angeles on March 10.

The medal-winning skater was honored with the Visibility Award from the advocacy group, and channeled his way with words into a rousing reminder that confidence and self-acceptance are nurtured from within.

“When I was little I used to care so much about what others thought of me,” he said. “I was mindful of the way I dressed, my mannerisms, the way I talked. I was afraid people would think I was weak. I was afraid of making mistakes. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be welcomed by the LGBTQ community because someone like me wouldn’t be the role model they were looking for. Maybe I was too gay, and maybe I was just too myself. Throughout my life, I have fallen short many times. I have felt depressed. I felt not good enough. And I felt like there would never be a day where I would feel like I belong. I was living life afraid. I remember hearing the quote, ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ I remember really hearing it, and honestly asking myself, ‘What would I do differently?’

"I remember making the choice to be unafraid," he continued. "I made the choice to not care what others thought of who I was. I was going to be truly me. This was the biggest and most important decision I’d ever made: To live fearlessly. To take risks. To let go of my fear of what others may think of me, and to always keep learning. You will find that you will have your greatest success when you wear your scars proudly. Through my shortcomings and from my successes, I’ve learned that a champion is more than a medal. It’s a mindset."

He closed with a powerful, inclusive sentiment: "To all the young kids out there, whether you are gay, straight, bi, trans or still on a journey of self-discovery; whether you are white, black, or any color in between, you are smarter than you think. You hold more strength than you may ever know. You are powerful. No matter where you have come from or where you are going to, there is someone who looks up to you, and they will find inspiration in your strength of just being yourself. Be a role model, and never forget that you can be someone’s champion. You are a winner. When we all come together, we can change the world."

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