Three Olympic figure skaters have come out for Pride Month, including two gay men and a queer woman.
The three athletes are: American singles figure skater Jason Brown, who is gay; Canadian ice dancer Paul Poirier, who is gay, and Canadian ice dancer Kaitlyn Weaver, who is queer.
Weaver is the second female Olympic figure skater to have come out. Japan’s Fumie Suguri competed in two Olympics and came out as bisexual after retiring.* American figure skater Amber Glenn, who finished second in the U.S. nationals this year but has not yet made an Olympic team, identifies as bisexual/pansexual.
Brown, 26, is a 2015 U.S. national champion and 2014 Olympic bronze medal in the team event. He lives in Los Angeles is training hard for the 2022 Olympics. He came out on Twitter and Instagram on Friday with the same message.
I’ve grown up surrounded by beautiful, creative, strong, proud, successful and supportive LGBTQ+ role models. Whether it be family members, coaches, skaters, teachers, friends or others I’ve had the privilege of crossing paths with, my perception of what’s it like to be LGBTQ+ was far from one-dimensional.
I’ve always found it impossible and truthfully dangerous to paint or stereotype any one group with a singular brushstroke. The diversity of people I’ve met along my journey has shown me that everyone is so individually themselves. No experience or personality is the same, simply people finding their identity, their voice and owning their truths and their own unique ways.
I’ve always been shown the beauty and embracing love in every form. I never questioned my own sexuality or even thought much about it because it didn’t matter. I am who I am, and I’ve always been fortunate to be surrounded by people who made me feel like that was enough.
I realize that so many confront a different reality. History hasn’t always been kind in the fight for equality, and acceptance is an ongoing one. There is no doubt that my life’s been enhanced because of the people around me who had the courage to stand up and share a piece of who they are with the world and for that I say thank you.
I believe that love will always win and every story will unfold differently for each individual. Mine unfolds a bit now. I’m gay, and that’s a story still being written...
Poirier, 29, is a world bronze medalist with ice dance partner Piper Gilles and the two competed for Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics. He came out in an interview with Glory, a Toronto magazine that focuses on sports and culture.
“[Being a gay athlete] hasn’t been something that I’ve really talked about very much, especially in a public setting,” Poirier said. “I’ve had this attitude that my private life is my private life and my life outside of skating is my life outside of skating. I haven’t necessarily allowed all of those things to bleed together. I think with the lead-up to the Olympic Games in the next year, I definitely see opportunities to share what we do and who we are to a much wider audience, and that opportunity is not lost on me.
“This Pride Month is a really good opportunity to share a bit more about my story, how my sexuality has made me the person and the athlete that I am today, and also perhaps be a role model for so many young queer athletes who are growing up and not really sure how to navigate that as they go through the world of sport.”
A self-described introvert, Poirier said coming out publicly “is also me pushing myself to be more comfortable and bolder in my own activism.” The entire interview is worth your while.
Weaver, 32, is originally from Texas and moved to Canada when she was 17. She and skating partner Andrew Poje competed for 13 seasons for Canada, won three medals at worlds and skated in the 2014 and 2018 Olympics. The pair are not planning to make a push for the 2022 Olympics.
In an interview with the CBC, Weaver said the Covid-19 pandemic made her take stock of her life and confront her fears of being a closeted queer athlete.
“I’ve reached the point of not wanting to pretend anymore. It really weighed on my mental health to hide consistently a part of who I am,” Weaver said. “I feel like it’s the right time in my life to share that I identify as a queer woman.
“I feel like I need to step up because I know there are a lot of young girls and people in sport who are afraid to share who they are.”
“Why are there no queer women? What’s the reason? That’s why I feel it’s my job to ask why we don’t feel safe. Why can’t you be one and the other? It’s our job to look critically at our sport and say what groups of people aren’t represented here.”
Weaver talked about the fear that held her back from coming out while she was competitive. “We are in a judged sport,” she said. “We’re afraid to put one toe out of line for fear of what people will think about us. Coming out was never something I considered.”
While these three skaters came out on their own timetable, it’s awesome to have all three do it in Pride Month and a year ahead of the next Winter Olympics.
*This article has been updated to reflect that Weaver is not the first female Olympic skater to come out.