Timothy LeDuc, an openly gay skater, and his partner Ashley Cain won the pairs event at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships this weekend in Detroit.
“Ashley Cain and I won the National Championships yesterday,” LeDuc wrote on his Facebook page. “I’m still pretty overwhelmed, but so so grateful for all the love and support and for everyone that’s helped us along the way.”❤️ ️ ⛸
“I’m very grateful. I stand on the shoulders of many great athletes who have come before me and allowed me to be open,” LeDuc told Team USA. “I believe I am the first openly queer person to win the U.S. pairs title. Rudy Galindo and Randy Gardner came before but I don’t believe they were out.
”Queer people still face a lot of challenges in this country. We’re still fighting for equality. I know for me personally I spent a lot of my earlier life self-deprecating because I didn’t understand who I was, and it’s taken years and years of work to overcome that; I still doubt myself sometimes.
“To be standing here today as the first openly queer athlete, I don’t say that to honor myself, I say it to show to others that you can do this, you can overcome, and you are worth it; you don’t have to doubt yourself for any reason.”
It was a remarkable win for the pair since Cain had suffered a concussion during an event in Croatia six weeks ago and was hospitalized for a time. She had a speedy recovery and she and LeDuc were able to put together a winning program.
“It was really amazing to watch each day,” LeDuc, 28 . “We came back, adding one little thing at a time. It was like building a castle.”
LeDuc has been out for a couple of years and started to speak out more publicly prior to the 2018 Olympics where he and Cain were alternates.
We still live in a country where I can be fired in some places just for being out,” he told Outsports last year. “We live in a country where 40% of the homeless youth are part of the queer community. Young queer people are more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts.
“Every queer person who has the means to be out should be out.”
In another competition at the nationals, Karina Manta and Joe Johnson, both openly LGBTQ, finished seventh in the ice dancing competition.
I don’t know if I have ever had this much fun,” said Manta. “This program is so special to us and it’s been a really special season. We do it because we want to put out a performance and entertain people and make them happy and feel something. It’s an honor to do that.”