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oakl0008
10-23-2011, 07:46 PM
No, they aren't. Quit using this thread as yet another attack on a skating federation.


How about quit using this thread to attack other posters? I never once "attacked" a federation. I disagreed with them. I have a right to without attacks from you. I wasn't the only one that disagreed.

Afterhsocks, I'll delete my comments. I'm sorry. But just to let you know, Jamie Hubley's death has hit close to home for me. I never knew Jamie personally but so many of the kids and their siblings at my workplace go to the same high school (A.Y. Jackson) as Jamie. EVERYONE is talking about it. But so few people REALLY know what it's like. It has brought back so much pain from my past.

While not gay (not that it's an issue with me AT ALL), I was a target of bullying through elementary and high school. It was relentless. I don't want or expect pity from anyone as there were gay students that received it so badly in my environment but believe me when I say this: For every poor soul like Jamie Hubley (I heard so many stories on how wonderful and talented this boy was as well as stories about the cruel people that abused him), there's so many others that are surviving, but JUST surviving, going through life feeling unworthy of love and respect because so many people made them feel that way growing up. This warped perspective does not end when high school ends. Feel free to dismiss this statement but Bullying is emotional violence that destroys who someone could have been, even if they manage to make it through alive physically. No one is blaming a federation for this tragedy, even indirectly. Young Jamie's sensless death probably has nothing to do with figure skating. However, the suggestion that a campaign pushing "manly" skaters as "tough" as opposed to skaters on the (what our society considers) effeminate, artistic side, however well intentioned, can send the wrong message is quite valid.

So I was saying "Aftershocks is awesome" was because I agreed with everything you said and how well you said it. And I WAS thinking of no one else but Jamie Hubley AND the others out there on the brink. How wonderful would the world be when people aren't judged so harshly for not fitting into various narrow "molds". I have my doubts, I hope that day will come.

overedge
10-23-2011, 07:49 PM
Yes, there is only so much we can do, if we are afraid to take a stand and make a concerted and genuine effort to do more. With heads in the sand, it might be a bit hard to think of anything to do other than to make excuses.

If figure skating federations had their "heads in the sand" and were unaware of homophobia, or didn't do anything about it, there would be a lot fewer guys participating in the sport.

IMHO skating federations are a lot more tolerant and accepting of different sexualities and different types of self-expression than the organizations running professional hockey, baseball, basketball and football - where players/officials are not only afraid to be out while they're in the sport, but are afraid to be out after they retire.

gkelly
10-23-2011, 08:26 PM
However, the suggestion that a campaign pushing "manly" skaters as "tough" as opposed to skaters on the (what our society considers) effeminate, artistic side, however well intentioned, can send the wrong message is quite valid.

Where did Skate Canada (not the media interpretations, but Skate Canada itself) ever say that marketing skating as tough was specifically about male skaters?

Most skaters are female.

What about a campaign pushing "womanly" skaters as "tough" as opposed to skaters on the (what our society considers) feminine, artistic side that's all about looking pretty and sexy twirling around in sequins and short skirts.

If you use words such as "strength," "power," "speed" and "risk" when describing the sport of women's singles skating, pair skating, ice dancing, and synchronized skating, how does that affect your perception of those disciplines and the women who compete in them? Does it imply anything one way or another about their sexuality away from the ice?

If the message is that girls who skate competitively are powerful, tough athletes; boys who skate competitively are powerful, tough athletes; women (lesbian and straight) who skate competitively are powerful tough athletes; men (gay and straight) who skate competitively are powerful tough athletes . . . and, yes, they skate to music and get extra points for interpreting the music and pointing their toes, but first and foremost they are powerful tough, athletes, and glitzy costumes distract from the real sport underneath . . .

Why would you take that message to mean that gay athletes are not welcome in the sport?

aftershocks
10-23-2011, 08:55 PM
Thanks for your sincere thoughts, oakl0008, and for sharing how you live in the community where Jamie lived and are experiencing more directly than most of us, the aftermath of what happened. Thanks also for sharing how it has affected you in a personal way and why. I did not intend to make you feel bad for agreeing with my other posts. In view of manhn's suggestion that I was "using" this thread to "attack federations," I wished to point out that my comments are not for the purpose of receiving compliments or negativity. Thanks for your understanding oakl0008 that I am expressing compassion for Jamie and other young people who experience bullying for being different.

There are problems throughout our society and throughout professional sports, overedge. I don't think that figure skating has any less of a problem with being "tolerant and accepting of different sexualities" than other sports. FS has simply been portrayed (inaccurately) as being a sissy sport, with a lot of gay athletes. Instead of promoting the fact that fs is an athletically demanding sport and art that attracts all kinds of people, and instead of actively demonstrating that all fs athletes are fully embraced and celebrated within the sport, fs officials traditionally have fearfully tried to run away from the designation, "gay sport." Face it head-on instead and acknowledge yes, "We have gay and straight athletes who are stronger, more fit, more coordinated, and able to command an arena, and bring audiences to tears and to their feet at the same time." Unfortunately, arenas in the U.S. are so empty maybe partly because the sport does not face many issues head-on and hasn't better promoted the sport by embracing all their athletes.

If gay officials and athletes in figure skating aren't "afraid," they must certainly be "uncomfortable" with publicly being known to be gay. Being gay might be accepted on the down-low within the sport, but clearly it is still not politically correct to speak out about it.

oakl0008
10-23-2011, 10:02 PM
Thanks for your sincere thoughts, oakl0008, and for sharing how you live in the community where Jamie lived and are experiencing more directly than most of us, the aftermath of what happened. Thanks also for sharing how it has affected you in a personal way and why. I did not intend to make you feel bad for agreeing with my other posts. In view of manhn's suggestion that I was "using" this thread to "attack federations," I wished to point out that my comments are not for the purpose of receiving compliments or negativity. Thanks for your understanding oakl0008 that I am expressing compassion for Jamie and other young people who experience bullying for being different.

There are problems throughout our society and throughout professional sports, overedge. I don't think that figure skating has any less of a problem with being "tolerant and accepting of different sexualities" than other sports. FS has simply been portrayed (inaccurately) as being a sissy sport, with a lot of gay athletes. Instead of promoting the fact that fs is an athletically demanding sport and art that attracts all kinds of people, and instead of actively demonstrating that all fs athletes are fully embraced and celebrated within the sport, fs officials traditionally have fearfully tried to run away from the designation, "gay sport." Face it head-on instead and acknowledge yes, "We have gay and straight athletes who are stronger, more fit, more coordinated, and able to command an arena, and bring audiences to tears and to their feet at the same time." Unfortunately, arenas in the U.S. are so empty maybe partly because the sport does not face many issues head-on and hasn't better promoted the sport by embracing all their athletes.

If gay officials and athletes in figure skating aren't "afraid," they must certainly be "uncomfortable" with publicly being known to be gay. Being gay might be accepted on the down-low within the sport, but clearly it is still not politically correct to speak out about it.

Aftershocks, your message and how it's written is wonderful. I PM'd you with a more thorough response. Keep up the good work. <3

overedge
10-23-2011, 11:50 PM
There are problems throughout our society and throughout professional sports, overedge. I don't think that figure skating has any less of a problem with being "tolerant and accepting of different sexualities" than other sports.

Ahem. Look at how many athletes and officials have passed through all of professional baseball, professional football, professional basketball, and professional hockey in, say, the last 20 years. Then look at how many athletes and officials in those sports are out, or who came out after retiring. The numbers are very very small in proportion to the number of participants. There is no way that figure skating "has any less of a problem" with different sexualities than those sports do, if the anti-gay stigma is that strong in these sports.

aftershocks
10-24-2011, 12:13 AM
gkelly, I don't think anyone ever said that they took the "tough" pr stance to mean that "gay athletes are not welcome in the sport." All athletes are welcome in the sport and generally will progress if they have talent, luck and financial resources. Historically tho', if athletes are gay, they have learned to hide it, and to mask it behind a more "masculine" approach to costumes and choreography. Very slowly that approach is beginning to change, but it still ain't politically correct for young athletes who are just beginning to discover who they are, to admit to being gay. Read Rudy Galindo's biography.

Since the days of Sonja Henie, the sport has been more associated with being a female sport. Ironically, during the sport’s beginnings, in the days of long skirts, women were encouraged not to participate. The women who braved the challenges of participating, had their sexuality questioned. It has been more acceptable for "ladies" to be feminine and lyrical, rather than powerful and edgy. Maybe the ladies event would be more interesting and energized if the ladies were allowed to explore all aspects of who they are, just as some of the men have been trying to do. I don’t think “glitzy” costumes “distract from the sport underneath.” In figure skating, costumes, music and choreography are as important as athletic ability and presentation skills. Whether “glitzy,” sequined, simple, graphic, or all-black, costumes should be chosen to help reflect what the skater is attempting to express through the music and choreography.


Ahem. Look at how many athletes and officials have passed through all of professional baseball, professional football, professional basketball, and professional hockey in, say, the last 20 years. Then look at how many athletes and officials in those sports are out, or who came out after retiring. ...

You could say the same about figure skating, overedge. Maybe you don't feel that is the case in figure skating, or you think the problem is more prevalent in other sports. No surveys are available that I'm aware of. I think it is possible to count on the fingers of one hand athletes who have willingly come out as gay in figure skating, and the same goes for the other sports.

5Ali3
10-24-2011, 01:11 AM
I think it is possible to count on the fingers of one hand athletes who have willingly come out as gay in figure skating, and the same goes for the other sports.

What's our definition/criteria for "coming out"? If we're only counting the current athletes who have enough prominence to garner national attention for being out, and have a desire to expose their personal lives to the national press, my count is zero. If we're counting the athletes who have introduced their same-sex s.o. to me, made a comment that clearly revealed their sexual preference, publicly macked on an individual of the same gender in a drunken post-competition public hook-up in the lobby of the hotel, posted pictures on their facebook of their same-sex s.o., or otherwise acknowledged their attraction to individuals of the same-sex, then I don't have enough fingers - but I would have no access to that level of information about football or basketball players or athletes in any other sport.

aftershocks
10-24-2011, 01:42 AM
Yes, there are several former famous figure skaters who came out after retirement via writing a book, being outed unwillingly, or responding to a direct question from the press. And more recently, I would say there are two fs athletes with widespread name recognition who came out while still eligible and also have written books. There are obviously many more who are comfortable being open within the figure skating community regarding their sexuality, but are not widely known outside of fs, and apparently have no interest in speaking out (what good would it do them personally, and why should it matter). Maybe one day we will live in a world where none of this matters and who cares. Despite more relaxed attitudes within society in general toward same-sex partnerships, I think within fs it still is not politically correct to talk about it or be too open about it in a very public way. Maybe a sea change is coming slowly.

overedge
10-24-2011, 02:22 AM
You could say the same about figure skating, overedge. Maybe you don't feel that is the case in figure skating, or you think the problem is more prevalent in other sports. No surveys are available that I'm aware of. I think it is possible to count on the fingers of one hand athletes who have willingly come out as gay in figure skating, and the same goes for the other sports.

You're missing the point - again. Sorry if this doesn't support your point of view, but there are many more athletes and officials that have been involved in professional football, professional basketball, professional baseball, and professional ice hockey in the past 25 years than have been involved in ice skating. And there are fewer "out" athletes in those sports than there are, or have been in skating. So the proportion of out athletes in those sports is much smaller than it is in skating, which to most reasonable people would suggest much stronger anti-gay biases or attitudes.

This list goes back as far as 1976. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lesbian,_gay,_bisexual,_and_transgender_sp ortspeople

I didn't count the female ice hockey players, because they are not in professional leagues, but I see 5 basketball players/officials, 2 baseball players/officials, 2 hockey players, 5 football players/officials, and 7 ice skaters. So if skating is so anti-gay, why are there more "out" athletes than there are in other sports with many more participants?

5Ali3
10-24-2011, 03:31 AM
So if skating is so anti-gay, why are there more "out" athletes than there are in other sports with many more participants?

First, a wikipedia page is not exactly the world's most reliable resource, especially when we're attempting to make comparisons between a sport in which we know, like, everyone and their second cousin, and sports in which we know, like, no one. Personally, I don't know enough about the non-skaters on that list to evaluate the relative prominence of the athletes listed. For example, I'm not sure that David Wilson really counts as an "out skater." His prominence in the community comes from his work outside the competitive arena.

Second, it's important that we consider confounding factors, especially when looking at that wikipedia list. What if there are a disproportionate number of figure skaters listed because:
- figure skating fans are more likely to be interested in editing wikipedia pages than football fans
- figure skating lost a disproportionate percentage of an entire generation to AIDS, at a time when infection strongly suggested transmission through same-sex sex
- the demographics of figure skating fans overlaps with the demographics of people who like to read books, leading more former figure skaters to come out/be outed in books than former football players
- there are a disproportionate percentage of figure skaters who are gay, either because the sport attracts youngsters who are gay, accepts youngster who are gay, and doesn't scare away youngsters who are gay/homophobic because skaters aren't naked in front of each other as often as football players are, or whatever reason
- Scott Hamilton is a jerk who can't keep his mouth shut and outed a bunch of people who never wanted to be outed
- there is a difference between the acceptance level within the community and from sponsors: community might be accepting, but sponsors aren't
- and so on

I'm not trying to argue that figure skating is "anti-gay" (I'm not sure what that means) or, um, "pro-gay" (I have no idea what that means, but it sounds like the opposite of "anti-gay"). I'm just trying to point out that the argument about the general attitude of figure skating towards sexual orientation cannot be determined solely from a list of athletes who are "out" and that the number of athletes who have been outed is not a good measure of the attitude in the community.

To make an actual argument: Yes, both U.S. Figure Skating and Skate Canada have a history of promoting images of heterosexuality among their male athletes. Yes, this history is problematic and involved considerable harm to athletes. But the cultures of both organizations has changed over time: as the generation of athletes who came of age during the first decade of the AIDS epidemic moved into supporting roles in the community, many of them came out immediately, refused to hide, and forced members of the community to readjust attitudes about homosexuality (I'm here, I'm me, how does the fact that I'm gay change how you feel about me?). Twenty years later, we have Senior Men who are quietly out and came out after they reached a high level, but we also have Novice and Junior Men who came of age in a generation where hiding their orientation is a foreign concept. Those skaters are going to come roaring into international competition in the next Olympic Quad without any idea how to hide their personal lives. Oh heck, that entire generation has no understanding of hiding their personal lives (hint: try adjusting the "privacy settings" on facebook; you'll thank me in twenty years, I promise).

FWIW, which is not much, I think that Skate Canada intended the "Tough" campaign to emphasize the athleticism of figure skating in a country where hockey fights/games are the center of life, but the fact that the connection between "tough," "macho," and the association's history of homophobia did not occur to anyone at Skate Canada suggests straight privilege. It's possible to be heteronormative without being homophobic. And of course, Skate Canada is not a hive-borg-mind: the person who wrote the press release and arranged for the donation is certainly not the same PR firm that created the "Tough" campaign.

aftershocks
10-24-2011, 03:32 AM
If the numbers that you can come up with are interesting to you, overedge, and you feel they support your point of view, wonderful. John Curry admitted to being gay in response to a direct question during a press conference after he won Olympic gold. Toller wrote about his private love affairs in his biographies. There are other gay athletes, coaches and officials in fs who are not on the wikipedia list, of course. The skating judge, Jon Jackson (I don't see him on the list), came out in the book he wrote about the world of figure skating. Not everyone has come out willingly (Brian Orser, e.g.), or with widespread publicity. I believe only Rudy Galindo (and recently Johnny Weir) publicly came out while still eligible skaters.

None of this means that skating is either "anti-gay" or "pro-gay." Nor do the numbers (even regardless of how limited and incomplete they are) prove that figure skating has any less of a problem than other sports with confronting the issue publicly and fully accepting all their athletes, regardless of sexual preference. Of course there has tended to be more gossip and general acceptance of gay athletes privately behind-the-scenes in fs (but traditionally male skaters have always been encouraged to present themselves in as masculine a way as possible, especially on the ice). I don't see where anyone said that figure skating is "anti-gay" in any case. It is simply that the sport tends to run away from confronting the issue head-on in a positive and progressive way, and in a way that would win fs new fans and greater understanding of all the sport has to offer. To me, the main difference with the other major sports is that they are generally portrayed as macho sports to begin with, and a gay baseball player would likely not feel comfortable with revealing his sexuality behind-the-scenes, while fs athletes in some cases may be more comfortable in that respect behind-the-scenes. Most athletes in all major sports, including figure skating would probably prefer to play/ compete/ perform, and just be who they are as a matter of course, rather than talk about their sexuality, or be singled out for their differences.

One day, let's hope we live in a world where being gay/ lesbian/ transgender/ or different in any number of ways and within all fields of endeavor, will be a non-issue, and young people like Jamie Hubley can be who they are, share their special gifts, and live their lives with joy and freedom from the fear of being bullied.

Thanks for your enlightening posts, 5Ali3.


... the general attitude of figure skating towards sexual orientation cannot be determined solely from a list of athletes who are "out" ...

neptune
10-24-2011, 08:08 AM
What a heartbreaking story. :( My deepest sympathies to all of Jamie's family and friends.

I also would like to point out that the phrase "committed suicide" is rather insensitive and is best avoided. It's much better to say "died of suicide" or "died by suicide." The following link discusses this matter well:

http://www.suicide.org/stop-saying-committed-suicide.html

overedge
10-24-2011, 05:46 PM
If the numbers that you can come up with are interesting to you, overedge, and you feel they support your point of view, wonderful. .

The numbers support my point of view, yes. And I have yet to see you provide any numbers or facts that support yours. If you choose not to understand the difference between the numbers of athletes and officials in 20 years in the professional sports that I mentioned, and the number of elite athletes and officials that participated in figure skating over the same time period, and the proportional difference in the number of out athletes in both groups - I would say that's sticking your head in the sand way more than the federations you are attacking.

JAF
10-24-2011, 06:59 PM
Why did Patrick Chan say that he was not gay? Maybe because he is not but is so often assumed to be.


So true. Why not correct an untruth?

What I want to know why some posters want to make all male skaters gay?
This is just as bad as making all male skaters heterosexual.

Accordion, your entire post was :kickass: