Have you seen “Be Good Johnny Weir,” the new Sundance reality show about the figure skating phenom who can do Lady Gaga and Victor Petrenko justice? Well, if your answer is no, you need more glam and ice bling in your life! Nobody brings it like Johnny, the booty-shaking bad boy ballerina with a heart of gold. He’s known for designing his own sparkly costumes — and his even more colorful sound bites. But he’s not all flash and talk; Johnny gave some seriously stunning Olympic performances in Vancouver!
The weird thing is, you’d think a guy who elevates athleticism to art and expresses himself with emotional performances and original costuming would be applauded in an individual, elegant sport like figure skating. But, as we saw this week at the Olympics, where he was robbed of a well-deserved medal, there seem to be invisible point deductions that “protect” the event from having a flamboyant face.Johnny revels in what is typically considered an effeminate skating style, and apparently, some narrow-minded people still feel that degrades the sport. This anti-ladylike argument suggests that all qualities normally associated with being a woman are just not good enough for a high score in athletic competition. Clearly, we gals lose when men are held to a ridiculously limiting gender standard too. And you know, I’d really like to watch those same judges try to make that same argument with hard-hitting hockey powerhouse Jessie Vetter or even snowboarding badass Lindsey Jacobellis!
Aren’t the Olympics about putting aside our differences and coming together to reward those talented athletes who inspire us all? Not that embracing your feminine side equals being gay, but in this case, Johnny’s sexuality has been the big elephant in the rink. Weir hasn’t officially come out, but as he told Outsports.com, when asked about his sexuality, point-blank:
“To me, there’s no importance to making a show out of something that’s just you. I promote Johnny Weir and I’m as ridiculous as they come, but that’s what I want people to see … It’s not like anyone goes up to Michael Jordan asking, “Hey, are you black?”
And let’s face it: If the friggin’ U.S. Military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff can say “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is unfair, you’d think some Olympic figure skating judges wouldn’t be ashamed to have Johnny in their ranks. What are they even protecting this figure skating image from: the fans, the athletes? Let’s call a spade, a spade — the thinly veiled judicial preference for “macho” men is nothin’ but plain old homophobia.
Well, Johnny always knows what to say. So, let’s give him have the last word in the argument he’s been living out in real life. Here’s his answer to “HBO Real Sports” when asked if “ … the fact that some people dismiss figure skating as ‘gay’ hurts the sport?”
“I know that for the men’s population of the Unites States, figure skating is a ‘gay’ sport and that’s a misconception. There are so many straight athletes in figure skating. But 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.”
Ha! Johnny, medal or not, you and your Olympic performances are unforgettable. Don’t worry about the figure skating community; the world is better because you aren’t afraid to be yourself. And your determined character is truly what future generations of Olympians deserve to have as their role model.