America’s first openly gay male Winter Olympian is also … pretty damn funny too.

Adam Rippon just made U.S. Olympics history.

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

When the 28-year-old heads to South Korea, he'll be the first openly gay U.S. male athlete to compete in the Winter Games.

Can he get a hell yeah?


Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images.

Other male LGBTQ athletes have competed in the winter games in years past — notably, fellow figure skaters Johnny Weir and Brian Boitano — but none had been open about their sexual orientation heading into the competition.

Rippon may not be alone in sharing the title either.

Openly gay freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy could make it to Pyeongchang too.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

Kenworthy, who came out publicly to ESPN in 2015, will find out soon whether he'll make the cut for South Korea in February. He represented Team USA in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

It matters that openly LGBTQ athletes are representing the U.S. on the world stage. And that's not lost on Rippon.

As he explained to NPR (emphasis added):

"Growing up, I really didn't have a lot of role models. And I said, if I was ever given the chance and the platform, I would share my story. ... I don't really care what other people think of me. I'm able to go out there and I'm really able to be, like, unabashedly myself. And I want somebody who's young, who's struggling, who's not sure if it's OK if they are themselves to know that it's OK."

Rippon isn't all serious business though.

In fact, he's often quite the jokester with his 54,000 Twitter followers.

Whether he's discussing his, er ... physical assets...

What it's like to be a gay athlete...

Or using familial bias to sway the judges...

Rippon certainly isn't afraid to be himself — in the rink or outside of it.

And as if blazing one trail wasn't enough, Rippon's age is also making Olympics history this year.

According to The Washington Post, 28-year-old Rippon will be the oldest U.S. figure skater to make a debut in the games since 1936.

He's ready to use his seniority to the team's advantage when it comes to mentoring fellow Americans Nathan Chen, 18, and Vincent Zhou, 17: "I always sort of feel like a leader or a big brother. I want the best for the both of them as we head into this Olympic Games.”

Nathan Chen (middle-left) and Vincent Zhou (middle-right) will join Adam Rippon (right) on Team USA Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

Making headlines for his age may be a bit less exciting than making LGBTQ history. But Rippon's happy to make light of the decade of experience he has over Chen and Zhou. “I’m so excited that my two sons are doing so well," he quipped to The Post about his teammates. "I’m honored to be their father."

The opening ceremony to Pyeongchang 2018 is set for Friday, Feb. 9.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less