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Celebrating LGBTQ sports history: John Curry wins world figure skating championships after being outed

Every day in October we’re looking back at the athletes, coaches and events that made LGBTQ sports history.

John Curry Olympics Figure Skating
John Curry
Getty

Every day in October we’re looking back at the athletes, coaches and events that made LGBTQ sports history. Today, we skate back to 1976, when Olympic champion John Curry was outed as gay.

John Curry wins world figure skating championships after being outed

By Jim Buzinski

Days before the March world figure skating championships in Sweden, Britain skating star John Curry was outed by a German newspaper. The news caused a brief stir but was generally ignored by the media and public.

Just a month earlier, Curry had skated to the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. The two titles were a fitting conclusion to Curry’s amateur career.

He said he had enjoyed the Olympic competition more than he thought, “It’s been very exciting - the perfect end to my amateur career and the perfect start to my professional career - I hope.”

Curry went on to form a touring skating company and also appeared on Broadway. In 1987, he was diagnosed with HIV, developed full-blown AIDS in 1991 and died in 1994 of a heart attack at age 44. After being diagnosed, Curry spoke about the disease and about being a gay athlete.

In 2007, a book about the late actor Alan Bates said he and Curry had been lovers. From the Daily Mail:

While he liked to appear publicly with women, and to cuddle with them privately, [Bates’] deepest romances and his most passionate sexual life occurred with men.

Among them were the Olympic skater John Curry... Alan enjoyed an intense, two-year romance with Curry while still married to Victoria Ward. When he later discovered that Curry was suffering the ravages of AIDS, he tended his old flame throughout his last days. Curry eventually died in his arms.

Look for another story celebrating LGBTQ sports history tomorrow and every day this month.