the voice and vision of a new generation
Image credit: Aisling McDermott

Dear Adam Rippon

March 7, 2018

Dear Adam,

My name is Aisling and I’m a GLAAD Campus Ambassador who wanted to say thank you for fundraising on behalf of GLAAD. I applied to become a part of GLAAD because I wanted to be like you. I wanted to be someone who spoke up and became a voice for others. When I saw you open up on Ellen to talk about your experience as a young queer kid and announce that you wanted to support GLAAD's youth work I felt so honored. You are not only raising funds for an amazing organization, you’re raising money for my amazing organization. Your campaign is bringing attention to a great cause and helping fund the dreams of hundreds of us Campus Ambassadors to become the heroes we needed growing up.

So, I wanted to thank you, but I also thought it was important to introduce myself—or reintroduce myself... I’m from Scranton, Pennsylvania just like you, and although the town is big enough for us to not have crossed paths, we have. We used to skate together, first in Pittston, next in Scranton.

You were skating, learning all that you could before moving on to bigger things. I was skating as well, but unlike you, I couldn’t hold my own. I was just learning how to skate, hardly able to move in a straight line when we first met. You would help with my classes at times, coaching my classmates and me through spins, jumps, and other simple maneuvers.

To me, you were the epitome of cool. You were talented, entertaining, and hung out with your friends without your parents.

Do you remember that pizza place in the same plaza as The Ice Box? The one you’d go to with all of your friends? I would go there too, with my mom, after practice. Every time we’d be there at the same time, you’d smile and wave at me. It made me feel so cool to be acknowledged by you. You could have easily ignored me—I was just a kid—but you didn’t.

You may not remember me, but I remember you. Like so many other people in Scranton, I followed your career, watching as you rose and fell and then rose again. I admired you, not just because you were my old skating teacher, but also because you were a kid from North Eastern Pennsylvania who had left and made it big. You’d gotten out of the valley and made something of yourself and it gave me hope that, one day, I too could leave Scranton behind.

Then you came out.

Finding out that you are gay made such a difference to me and it became another thing about you that I loved. You see, about five years after we met—years after you’d moved away, I began the process of discovering my own sexuality. To this day I have no real idea of where on the spectrum of sexuality I lie, but I do know that I like girls. This used to terrify me because, well, you know what Scranton is like: it’s not the most liberal place in the world. But people like you, people who lived their lives out and proud, got me through the process of coming to terms with my sexuality.

You’ve come a long way since being that curly haired kid in Scranton. You’ve won medals, traveled all around the world, become a nationally ranked skater and an Olympian. You’ve truly made it.

You have always been someone I could look up to, someone I could look at and think, that’s the kind of person I want to be. Now, you aren’t just the kid who made it out... you are the queer kid who made it big.

So, thank you. Thank you for being that person for me and for all the other queer kids out there who needed a voice. Thank you for for supporting my work at GLAAD, thank you being out and proud, and thank you for living life unapoligetically as the one and only Adam Rippon.

Love,

Aisling

To get involved with Adam Rippon's fundraiser supporting LGBTQ youth click here.

Aisling McDermott is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and senior at Le Moyne College studying English Literature. Aisling is the president of their LGBTQ student organization, Prism. 

the voice and vision of a new generation