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Gays in skating

From an interview in Chicago's Windy City Times with Michael Weiss, a competitive figure skater now doing ice shows:

WCT: Figure skating is often stereotyped as a “gay” sport. Do you have any comment on that?

MW: Like with any stereotype, it's about not understanding the sport. Figure skating certainly has its share of gay people in it, but I think it provides an atmosphere for gay people to be themselves and be open. If you go to football locker rooms, there are gay people there, but it's not as accepted for a football player to go out on the field with a sequined football helmet. But figure skating not only accepts it, but also rewards it, with grace, athleticism and ballet—but it's also a stereotype that you would consider gay people to be more graceful.

It's also something a lot of young figure skaters deal with growing up; some people will say that figure skating is for girls and not for boys. [ However, ] a lot of people have broken those molds: Elvis Stojko was very macho who did tae kwon do, and Scott Hamilton and Kurt Browning skate in jeans and T-shirts as opposed to the stereotypical figure-skating outfits. Football players get labeled as dumb jocks, and that's not true in all cases.

Those are nice comments by Weiss (married with two kids), but the followup was never asked: If skating is so accepting of gays, how come there were zero out skaters at the 2006 Olympics? (Whatever one thinks of Johnny Weir's sexuality, he has never acknowledged publicly whether or not he is gay).

As figure skating expert Lorrie Kim wrote for us in 2006: "What hasn't changed is that many of the officials, judges, and skating federations, especially in the U.S., make it clear that they prefer male skaters to look 'masculine' and will be harsher on effeminate-looking skaters when it comes to giving marks or desirable competitive assignments." Homophobia exists in the figure skating world and there is little evidence it is "rewarded" in any way. --Jim Buzinski