Weir ’Not Family Friendly Enough’ for Ice-Skaters’ Tour
Flamboyant figure skater Johnny Weir will not be included in the Stars in Ice Tour, a March 11 Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) blog posting said. The reason? Weir is "not family friendly."
"To say that Weir is ’not family friendly’ would be a clear jab at his perceived sexual orientation," the GLAAD blog stated. "Weir is extremely involved with his family." The blog said that Weir provides financial support for his family, because his father is unable to work. Weir is also paying tuition for his younger brother, who is in college.
Weir has been unapologetic about his public presentation, which, on and off the ice, has been seen as flamboyant--and forthrightly gay. But Weir has seemed to play with perceptions about sexuality, refusing to state his orientation and talking about his sport--which has a reputation for being "gay"--in terms that avoid labeling. "I know that for the men’s population of the Unites States, figure skating is a ’gay’ sport, and that’s a misconception," Weir told Advocate.com in a Feb. 9 article. "There are so many straight athletes in figure skating. I think it’s the music and the costumes that turn most men off. Because they want to see, well, they want to see spandexed men hitting each other’s ass and throwing a ball. It’s very different."
But in Weir’s case, argues OutSports.com’s Cyd Zeigler in a Feb. 17 article, his public persona is not simply a holdover of the sport’s theatricality: "Over the last four years, Weir has been the gayest thing in sports," Zeigler wrote. "He walked in the Heatherette show and appeared in Black Book in high heels. In his documentary, ’Pop Star On Ice,’ he’s in a bubble bath with his best friend, Paris and he lies on the couch with a Hello Kitty doll. When ESPN asked him for an interview, he took the reporter for a mani-pedi. When I interviewed Weir last summer and asked him how many sequins are too many, he answered: ’What kind of question is that? There are never too many.’ "
For Australian commentators Molloy and McGuire, however, the costumes were a subject of mockery--leading to viewer complaints and the establishing of Facebook page "Eddie McGuire is ruining the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage," reported U.K. newspaper The Sun on Feb. 19.
Commenting on the costumes worn by the skaters, Molloy remarked, "They don’t leave anything in the locker room these blokes, do they?"
"They don’t leave anything in the closet either, do they?" rejoined McGuire, who went on to suggest that the presence of a heterosexual skater in the competition was a rarity. Apologizing later, Molloy added a barb: "I suggested that there was a disaster happening at the ice skating rink because organizers had found out one of the male ice dancers wasn’t gay. And I apologize for that really sincerely. But it definitely wasn’t this guy." Molloy was referring to Weir, who was clad in dramatic attire and carrying a prop in the shape of a heart.
Similar remarks made by two Canadian sports announcers led to calls from the Quebec Gay and Lesbian Council for an apology from Canadian French language broadcaster RDS, reported the Associated Press on Feb. 22.
RDS sports commentators Alain Goldberg and Claude Mailhot swapped wisecracks about Weir, including a suggestion that the figure skater be tested to determine his gender, in a reference to Caster Semenya, a South African runner who was subjected to gender testing after her winning performance last year in Germany. They also suggested that Weir should be competing in women’s events, rather than men’s. The duo further slammed Weir as "a bad example" of figure skating athletes.
The Quebec Gay and Lesbian Council posted a detailed account of the commentators’ exchanges on its Web site. "The CQGL demands public apology from these people for their offensive and derogatory comments against the figure skater Johnny Weir and his appearance at his performance in the short program held the previous day," text at the site read, going on to say that the announcer’s remarks were "each more insulting than the last... They perpetuate their own prejudices against homosexuals."
"While Weir has not officially announced his sexual orientation, he has garnered a significant amount of LGBT fans," noted the GLAAD blog. "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?’ "
Weir has won the U.S. National Championships three times and competed in two Winter Olympics.