Four years ago, while watching the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia on television, I thought I might be hallucinating when there on the screen were Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski all dressed up in the craziest outfits, giggling their way through some sort of skating commentary. I felt like I was off my rocker. It could not possibly be real. But real it was.
The two-time Olympian Weir spent each day of those Winter Olympics in Russia hurling fairy dust and sequins in Vladimir Putin’s homophobic face while doing commentary of the Figure Skating for NBC Sports. I really did think that I might be too high as this transcendent couple babbled on about flutzes, death spirals and camel-toes while providing the very best possible fashion show.
It seems nutty to me, but Figure Skating’s inherent gayness is rarely publicly discussed in the sports world or its commentary. It has been complicated long before Weir came on the scene. Who would have guessed that there were queer skaters?
Weir didn’t come out of the closet until he had left the sport. So, when Weir, who, at the time, was married to a man of Russian descent, was on television behaving as flamboyantly gay as he pleased in Sochi, his implied political message was as brave as it was fun.
When Weir competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver BC, he was made to endure many derogatory comments about his gayness and even the question of his gender. Some sports writers speculated that Weir did not receive a medal that year, even with excellent technical scores, because of his crazy costume and music choices, and his on the ice attitude. Weir responded:
”I’ve heard worse in bathrooms. I don’t want 50 years from now more young boys and girls to have to go through this sort of thing.”
Last night, like magic, Lipinski and Weir were back on my television screen just as they are for one month, every four years, always in a different city. This year, that city is PyeongChang, South Korea, home of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and a place where many athletes are hoping to make their dreams come true.
The figure skating competition got underway Thursday night, broadcast live on NBC with Olympians-turned-analysts Lipinski and Weir all in glitter and hardly able to contain their excitement. I just love them.