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  1. #1
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    BUZZFEED: Why Is The World’s Gayest Sport Stuck In The Closet?

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/blairbraverm...-in-the-closet

    Why Is The World’s Gayest Sport Stuck In The Closet?

    Men’s figure skating has always been caught between its public image and its conservative culture. But with anti-LGBT policies haunting the Sochi Olympics, the sport’s biggest stars are under more pressure than ever to set the record straight.

    posted on January 31, 2014 at 1:24am EST
    Blair Braverman - BuzzFeed Contributor

    Excerpt:

    When I ask figure skater Jeremy Abbott how athletes should respond to Russia’s anti-gay laws, his eyes widen. “Um,” he says, and stops. He shrugs a little and glances over at the U.S. Figure Skating (USFS) handler who’s standing nearby.

    “You don’t have to answer that,” the handler reassures him.

    Abbott takes in a breath, glances down. “Yeahhh,” he sighs, almost inaudibly. Then — “I’m going to walk away from that one.”

    We’re backstage at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, which serve as an unofficial qualifier for the Olympic team, and Abbott’s a favorite. He’s 28 years old, planning to retire at the end of the season and cautious; he was criticized last year for comparing Russia’s laws — which have motivated the rape, torture, and murder of gay men and women — to bad interior design. (“I’m not going to go into somebody’s house and be like, “Um, the way you decorate is hideous.”) A bunch of athletes had been cornered on the topic, and the less media-savvy skaters hadn’t yet mastered the art of expressing compassion while sidestepping responsibility. Abbott just happened to come up with a particularly inept metaphor.

    Later, when I pass him in the hallway, he apologizes twice.

    To outsiders, men’s figure skating is widely perceived as the Gayest Sport Ever, the butt of endless jokes — consider last weekend’s SNL cold open about the “U.S. Men’s Heterosexual Figure Skating Team.” The direct action group Queer Nation has recently protested figure skaters Brian Boitano and Johnny Weir for not speaking up against Russia’s anti-gay laws. One of the group’s representatives, who asked to not be named, tells me, “Everyone assumes all male skaters are gay. So what? … I have a hard time believing that figure skating is a particularly homophobic sport. I don’t understand this impulse, particularly from figure skaters, to hide their sexuality. You can’t tell me that if Jeremy Abbott came out as gay that it would affect his standing in the skating world.”

    To insiders, though, it’s no surprise that skaters are reluctant to speak out on LGBT rights, let alone come out themselves. Most male skaters and officials are committed to keeping their sport in the closet, whether that means choosing “masculine” music, hinting about a girlfriend, or outright denying any connection to homosexuality. A figure skater can never quite outskate the judges’ opinion of him, and judges and institutions, it turns out, are notoriously conservative — as some would say, “family-friendly.” At the National Championships, which took place this January in Boston, a phrase I heard often was “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

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    I think this is an overall better article than the similar Newsweek article. Worth the read.

  3. #3
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    I skimmed over the article - I read the Newsweek one last night - and from what I read it was quite interesting. Nothing we didn't really know but I think it's informative for the public who thinks figure skating is the sporting equivalent of musical theatre in terms of LGBT acceptance (again I think the actual current athletes are quite accepting...it's the upper echelons of the sport, where a lot of self-hating gay and straight men are, that is pushing the sport towards what Jenny Kirk called a 1950s view of the world)

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    One senior coach and former Olympian, who requested anonymity, thinks he knows the problem
    Okay, so I know he requested anonymity- but there cannot have been that many senior men's coaches who were former Olympians.

    This quote ("His own top skater, he tells me proudly, is “a true-true guy. The straightest they come.”) is so disturbing to me, I really want to know who said it. Has anyone figured this out before I do the legwork finding out who all the men's coaches were? It can't be describing Max Aaron or Brandon Mroz (which were my first thought, though I really don't know if they are straight or not), as Zakrajsek was not an Olympian.

    ETA: Never mind, that took me like 30 seconds. Probably Keegan Messing's coach, who is a former Olympian; though Ross Miner's wikipedia page also lists a coach who was an Olympian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    Okay, so I know he requested anonymity- but there cannot have been that many senior men's coaches who were former Olympians.

    This quote ("His own top skater, he tells me proudly, is “a true-true guy. The straightest they come.”) is so disturbing to me, I really want to know who said it. Has anyone figured this out before I do the legwork finding out who all the men's coaches were? It can't be describing Max Aaron or Brandon Mroz (which were my first thought, though I really don't know if they are straight or not), as Zakrajsek was not an Olympian.

    ETA: Never mind, that took me like 30 seconds. Probably Keegan Messing's coach, who is a former Olympian.
    Or Doug Ladret?

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    Quote Originally Posted by reese View Post
    Or Doug Ladret?
    I have no idea if Douglass Razzano is gay or straight- but I don't think anyone would describe his skating using the manly buzzwords. He is artistic. That's why I eliminated Doug Ladret.

    I did edit to add that it was possibly Miner's secondary coach.


    Whoever said it, man- the follow up quote about gay skaters only attracting a gay audience where straight skaters attract everyone is awful. No wonder they wanted anonymity.

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    “I grew up in Alaska,” senior men’s competitor Keegan Messing tells me, “so I run with the bears.” He pauses and squints, like he’s not sure what he means, and then he shrugs the confusion off: “Actually, I have got run over by a bear before.
    I don't know why, but I can't stop laughing at this part

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    Great article -- thanks

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    Some of these skaters are still kids!

    They should not have to be "outed" for some political statement. I don't care if they are gay or not. I think their personal life is their business not mine. If the skater feels comfortable making a political statement about Russia that's fine, but if he/she isn't comfortable they should not be pushed by gay lobbying to "take a stand"

    I daresay that a lot of kids at their age who are not in the "World's Gayest Sport" are still working out their sexuality issues too... it's just that because they don't skate we don't care LOL!

    Not to mention, that just because you are gay does not mean you have to make your personal life public.... I could stand to know a lot less about the personal lives of a lot of public figures LOL!

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    ^^ I agree, Carolla. The majority of skaters are obviously still maturing as individuals and finding out who they are, not to mention the difficulty of trying to develop their talents and finding their identity on the ice as complete figure skaters. Actually, they shouldn't be expected to speak with authority on a host of worldly topics (but as happens to many athletes, they are often asked about off-ice current events and controversial issues). I don't think any young skater, regardless of their sexual orientation needs to discuss their intimate personal life for the sake of a movement. People should just be allowed to be who they are and express who they are in whatever way they please without being hounded by skating officials, or media, or pro-gay organizations, or anti-gay organizations.

    To a degree I do understand the attempt to write about the "closeted" gay subject in figure skating (as it does tend to arise every four years... e.g., the questions Johnny Weir was asked by media pre-Vancouver, and the heavy speculation in the press immediately after Johnny's 2006 Olympic sp, when he skated in iconic fashion and as a male to The Swan, not to mention the questions John Curry was asked many years ago). Of course, Russia's anti-gay law makes the whole topic even riper for discussion this time around. And, in figure skating after the rebellious, outspoken and inimitable Johnny Weir (along with more progressive attitudes existing culturally) quite a few skaters regardless of whether they are gay or straight, seem to feel more comfortable in their own skin and in expressing themselves creatively on the ice without fear of the former bullying by TPTB about colorful costumes and not looking macho enough.

    OTOH, I think the sport needs to own up to its own history and tradition of promoting "macho-ness" while fearing the "gay" characterization. At this point, why not simply embrace and celebrate the wonderful beauty of all who have contributed so greatly to the sport, and be more open about and inclusive of the different backgrounds and characteristics of the individuals who make up this sport, without the "winking" and protesting too much. I think it will continue to take time due to the fact that many of the people who grew up in the sport who happen to be gay are unable to embrace openness since they learned the hard way that macho pretense is very important both culturally and within the sport, even despite the fact behind-the-scenes they are quietly known and accepted to be gay without fanfare. Of course in an ideal world, that is as it should be anyway.

    Still figure skating by owning up to its closeted history as a whole and coming clean in that respect, while pointing out the variety of different backgrounds and contributions from all skaters could end up promoting the sport for all that it is and for what draws so many people to it. The joy and appeal of figure skating has not much to do with people's sexual orientation. Ultimately, I think it's the secretive, hush-hush tradition of denial that has been so prevalent in the sport that in many respects has made it difficult to fully promote the sport to a larger public. Skaters as individuals don't need to come out necessarily, as much as the sport itself needs to reflect on its history and to embrace openness and diversity.

    The reference in the article to a current skater, if he comes out, that it would have no impact on his career, is an erroneous assumption IMO. Perhaps after said skater retires, he might be more comfortable coming out, or not. Everyone is entitled to their privacy. As far as the reference to "athletic" vs "artistic" being coded "butch/femme" terms, that's true. But also, "athletic" has been used generally to refer to skaters based on how they are perceived, sometimes as being stronger technically. It can be overdone in that respect too, as Debi Thomas was often referred to as being more athletic, despite the fact she was also very creative artistically, often choreographing her own programs. Because Midori Ito had stocky legs and powerful jumps, she was labeled "athletic," and not given points for her graceful qualities and engaging presentation skills. Even early in her career, Midori was a budding artist, even if not at the level of a Janet Lynn.
    Last edited by aftershocks; 01-31-2014 at 07:26 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dardar1126 View Post
    Later, when I pass him in the hallway, he apologizes twice.
    Jeremy apologized twice for what? For walking away? For the lame metaphor that he made last year? For bumping into the writer in the hall twice? For passing gas? Why did he apologize twice? I hate vague writing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    I did edit to add that it was possibly Miner's secondary coach.
    Peter Johansson ? I would say that's highly unlikely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ioana View Post
    Peter Johansson ? I would say that's highly unlikely.
    I don't know anything about the man, or whether or not he'd say something like that- but he meets the criteria of coach who is a former Olympian. Based on Keegan's comments in the article (though not quite in the same realm as the anonymous coach's) I highly think my first guess was the right one.

    Keegan seems to be the skater most concerned with being manly. Even with Max Aaron it seems to be more the commentators who expect him to be manly, he is trying to expand his skating to be more full.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ioana View Post
    Peter Johansson ? I would say that's highly unlikely.
    I doubt and would hate to think it's Peter as I have partied with him and Mark Mitchell awhile back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    I don't know anything about the man, or whether or not he'd say something like that- but he meets the criteria of coach who is a former Olympian. Based on Keegan's comments in the article (though not quite in the same realm as the anonymous coach's) I highly think my first guess was the right one.
    I'm completely clueless about Burghart, but if the only choices available are him or Johansson, I'd got with him in a heartbeat.
    Johansson in his competitive days http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivlrjZ5JtGA

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    Comments on this and on the Newsweek article are pretty telling: non skating fans reading them are astounded that the sport and its participants are either homophobic or locked firmly in the closet. They expect it to be the most gay-friendly place on earth.

    So, people at ISU, USFS and all the rest of them: the whole world thinks you're Gay Central anyway, so what the f**k are you afraid of?
    Touching the void.

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    Why the obsessive interest in "outing" everyone mentioned; even if it is only speculation?
    What useful purpose is served?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    I don't know anything about the man, or whether or not he'd say something like that- but he meets the criteria of coach who is a former Olympian. Based on Keegan's comments in the article (though not quite in the same realm as the anonymous coach's) I highly think my first guess was the right one.

    Keegan seems to be the skater most concerned with being manly. Even with Max Aaron it seems to be more the commentators who expect him to be manly, he is trying to expand his skating to be more full.
    Why are you so determined to out someone?

    Why do you have to know?

    apparently the person in question wanted to remain private. Time to take your fingers off the keyboard and quit gossiping

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carolla5501 View Post
    Why are you so determined to out someone?

    Why do you have to know?

    apparently the person in question wanted to remain private. Time to take your fingers off the keyboard and quit gossiping
    I would think the person in question didn't want to face any possible ramifications for his statements more than anything...
    "How you treat the weak is
    Your true nature calling" -- Jane's Addiction

  20. #20
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    Really.wtf difference does it make. Should we publicly speculate on YR sexuality? We can you know lol.

    In general, why the fck is every fcking thing so sexualized these days? Don't we have anything better to do, like save the planet?!
    Have a nice day!

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