Is it me or has the world gotten even more hyperparanoid and confused about sexual orientation and gender expression? In what is both an absurd and incomprehensible decision, GLAAD reports that Stars on Ice sponsors are so concerned about the flamboyance of Olympic ice skater Johnny Weir (or is it his costumes?), that they don’t want him on the tour.
When was the last time male figure skaters and BUTCH coexisted in your mind? Why does it matter anyway? Are Dick and Jane going to be gender confused after a 90-minute ice show? I think these people have lost their minds.
GLAAD has learned from a source that wishes to remain anonymous that sponsors of the Stars on Ice Tour, which include Smuckers and IMG Entertainment, have refused to allow 3-time US National Champion and 2-time Olympian Johnny Weir to participate because they claim that he is “not family friendly.”
To say that Weir is “not family friendly” would be a clear jab at his perceived sexual orientation. Weir is extremely involved with his family. He is putting his younger brother through college, and supports the family financially because his father’s disability prohibits him from working. Weir’s dedication to his family can be clearly documented in the Sundance series, Be Good Johnny Weir, which follows him and his family and friends through his life and career as a championship skater.
Weir’s performance and costume style is sometimes considered flashier than those of other skaters, leading to questions about his perceived sexual orientation. While Weir has not officially announced his sexual orientation, he has garnered a significant amount of LGBT fans. He remains one of the most outspoken skaters today, and won an online poll asking fans “Who would you like to see guest star on Stars on Ice?”
Well that last point shows that the only paranoia exists in the minds of the sponsors. I’m not sure which aspect of Weir set off these alarms — is it the ornate and creative costumes? Over the years, the costumes of male figure skaters have become more free and flamboyant, regardless of the athlete’s real or perceived sexual orientation.
For instance I remember when the incredibly talented Rudy Galindo, the 1987 World Junior Champion and the 1996 U.S. National Champion — and was one of the first figure skaters that I recall coming out of the closet. Take a look at him from this short program at the ’96 Worlds. I remember his flamboyance and oh-so-gey velvet costume were considered radical.
Now how tame was that? That costume (or his known homosexuality at the time) didn’t stop Galindo from continuing to compete, and to go on to a professional skating career, including a 10-year stint with the Tom Collins’ Champions on Ice show.
Now look at Johnny Weir’s short program at the NHK Trophy last year.
All I’m saying is that it’s all relative, and with a broader acceptance and comfort with self-expression along the gender norm lines within the sport, these sponsors and Stars on Ice need to get a flipping grip.