Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon probably didn't expect his recent appearance on ABC's What Would You Do? to reduce him to tears, but that's exactly what happened.
But it was the good kind of tears.
For Rippon's appearance, the show—which uses hidden cameras and actors to record people's reactions to difficult situations, public arguments and the like—staged a scene in which a baseball coach urges a young gay athlete to remain in the closet.
And a stranger's response moved Rippon to tears as you can see in the segment here:
Coach tells athlete to stay in closet about sexuality | WWYD youtu.be
In the scene, which was staged in a restaurant, the coach is heard coercing the young athlete to stay closeted:
"This could be a career ender for you… don't you want to go to the big leagues?"
Multiple bystanders attempt to intervene, but it was one woman in particular who most moved Rippon.
“He's right in the bathroom now freaking out because he wanted you to accept him more... I know it's hard, but don't say that to him… these kids nowadays have so much pressure, and they want to kill themselves."
When the young athlete returns from the restroom, the woman offers him words of comfort and encouragment.
"Just give him time. Things are different now in this world, and he just doesn't realize it."
“He's old school and he feels like no one has done that yet, but maybe you could be the first."
It was the woman's willingness to intervene that so moved Rippon.
"That's so cool to see. She didn't need to say anything, and she was just so kind to the both of them."
And at the end of the segment, Rippon went and spoke with the woman to thank her directly.
“I just have to say, you were saying 'the world is changing,' but it's people like you who are changing it. I get emotional talking about it."
The segment was deeply personal to Rippon, who was once a closeted athlete himself.
He described why the segment moved him so much.
"I remember being that young kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who thought this would be a secret forever. I thought, I owe it to that kid to say something."
On social media, there was no shortage of praise for both Rippon and the woman who intervened.
BRAVO @AdamRippon 💪💪🏿‼️🏳️🌈 #LGBTQAIstrong https://t.co/9YoYEf2c6K— Joel R Melamed (@Joel R Melamed)1594757258.0
@WWYDABC @AdamRippon She was amazing with some wise words!— Debbie (@Debbie)1594779568.0
@WWYDABC @AdamRippon I love him! ❤️— Briana Resendez (@Briana Resendez)1594780210.0
No room for hate in 2020! https://t.co/JcfnjCwVLy— JekyllNhyde (@JekyllNhyde)1594779577.0
I just cried watching this clip and then burst out laughing as @AdamRippon says “we need more people like you, wear… https://t.co/wTuYEFUIqF— James Cooper シ (@James Cooper シ)1594657167.0
Nice to see @TrevorProject supporting#WWYD and vice versa. You too @AdamRippon Times change but coming out is sti… https://t.co/D5I54Tgrg6— Robin J Phillips (@Robin J Phillips)1594863246.0
@AdamRippon @WWYDABC This gave me so much hope that things are getting better. God help us to be kind to one another. I love you Adam.— Sherry (@Sherry)1594780123.0
@JohnQABC I love Adam Rippon!! ♥️👏Great show!— Laurie Atwood (@Laurie Atwood)1594782241.0
Rippon also spoke about the importance of LGBTQ representation in sports.
"...I think when people can see a little bit of themselves in someone, it gives them the permission to be as authentic as possible."
Rippon came out publicly in 2015, and competed in the Winter Olympics in 2018.