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Weir, Johnny (b. 1984)  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  

It thus came as a complete surprise to practically no one when Weir came out publicly in his 2011 memoir.

Following the publication of the book, Weir acknowledged his debt to glbtq activists of the past, stating to Chris Azzopardi of Between the Lines, "They really had to fight to live their life freely and openly, and they had so many more obstacles than I've had in my life. They were the warriors, that whole generation—from the '50s, '60s, and '70s. . . . Thank you for the people who've done it before me, but I don't have to fight for anything."

Sponsor Message.

Yet, even as he said that, he acknowledged that his decision to come out was influenced partially by a rash of suicides by glbtq youth in the fall of 2010 and that he had taken up the fight by becoming a sponsor of the Trevor Project, which operates a help-line (1-866-4-U-TREVOR) offering life-saving counseling around the clock every day of the year.

Moreover, Weir himself has paid a price for his unabashedly gay mannerisms. Even though he finished sixth in the 2010 Olympics, he nevertheless established himself as the most exciting figure skater in the world, far more enjoyable to watch than his gold medalist rival Evan Lysacek. Still, he was passed over by sponsors and even gigs with ice skating shows such as Stars on Ice because he is perceived as "too gay."

In addition to the Trevor Project, Weir also supports such organizations as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Equality California, and the Human Rights Campaign.

In an interview with Cloe Cabrera of the Tampa Tribune, Weir contrasted his fortunate situation of having "two very supportive and loving parents who are very strong and independent and never begrudged [him] anything" with that of a young man whom he chanced to meet at an airport and who told him that his father had stabbed him when he acknowledged his homosexuality.

"When I hear stories like that I feel blessed, but I feel even more of a responsibility to help people who will have a hard time coming out," he stated, adding, "In my own way, I hope I've made the journey a little less scary for the next Johnny Weir."

In May 2011, Weir spoke out on behalf of many gay athletes when Olympic gold medalist gymnast Peter Vidmar was selected as "chef de mission" for the 2012 U. S. Olympic team. After Outsports.com revealed that Vidmar had campaigned in favor of California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the Golden State, Weir denounced the choice of Vidmar as "disgraceful" and a violation of the Olympic Charter's prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The U.S. Olympic Committee initially defended the choice of Vidmar for the job, which involves acting as chief spokesperson for the team and as liaison between the team and the International Olympic Committee and the London organizing committee. But when other athletes followed Weir's lead in denouncing the selection, Vidmar, perhaps at the urging of the USOC, withdrew from the position, saying he did not want the controversy to overshadow the Olympic athletes.

In June 2011, Weir served as the Grand Marshal of the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade.

On December 30, 2011, Weir and Victor Voronov wed in a small civil ceremony at the New York City Courthouse. It was attended by the parents of both men.

The couple announced that they have changed their surnames to Weir-Voronov, but that Weir will continue to use the name Johnny Weir professionally.

Following the ceremony, Weir issued a statement saying, "Marrying Victor has been the greatest moment in my life and I will work very hard to make him proud and happy. . . . Finding someone to share your life with is one of the most important things a human can do and was preached to me by my mother. Victor is the epitome of a gentleman, as handsome as he is clever and loving. Our road to marriage has been a fast one, but one I never waivered on. I am honored to have been married in the great state of New York, and I hope more states pass laws allowing all Americans to be united through love and marriage."

In 2013, Weir declared his intention to return to competitive skating in hopes of making the team for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi, Russia. Many considered the comeback bid improbable, and, indeed, in October 2013 Weir announced his retirement from competition, although he stated that he planned to continue skating in ice shows.

Interest in the Sochi Games became inextricably tied to the news that gay men and lesbians were the subject of a pogrom in Russia. Russia's infamous law against "gay propaganda" sparked a sharp uptick in violence and discrimination directed toward gay men and lesbians in Russia.

Whatever credit Weir had earned as an advocate for equal rights was soon cast in doubt as he appeared frequently on television programs discussing his experience as an openly gay Olympian. In these appearances, Weir struck many as indifferent to the plight of glbtq Russians and more interested in self-promotion. In one appearance, he wore a Russian military uniform.

The controversy intensified when Weir was hired as a commentator for NBC, the television channel that owns U.S. rights to broadcasting the Olympics.

Although Weir had made statements lamenting violations of human rights, he had also strongly opposed a boycott of the Sochi Games in protest of Russian policies toward its glbtq citizens. In July 2013 Weir stated that the Olympics "do not represent their host [country]. . . . People make their own futures, and should a government or sponsor steal that future, whether it be a Russian government or American government, it is, as an athlete, the death and total demolition of a lifetime of work."

Since these comments were dismissive of the fact that some glbtq Russians had lost not dreams of Olympic glory but their very lives, a group of protesters from Queer Nation NY and RUSA LGBT picketed a speech that Weir gave at Barnard College in early December 2013. Responding to the protest, Weir declared people who supported a boycott "idiots like the four outside."

When glbtq activists denounced Weir's characterization of the protesters, he issued an apology of sorts, saying that it was a case of his "tongue getting away from [him]."

Weir's view of Russia seems to be idiosyncratic--even solipsistic. It is not well informed when it comes to political and social issues. "I've never had a bad experience in Russia. Not gotten called a fag or beaten up. . . . I only see the rosy, golden side. I choose to see Russia in an arrogant, selfish way. I didn't know what to think about the new law [on "homosexual propaganda"]," he stated.

Journalists covering the story discovered an apparent conflict of interest for Weir, whose biography on the Premiere Speakers Bureau web site described him as "work[ing] with . . . [the] Russian Consulate in New York City,' thus, an employee of the Russian government. Once questions were raised, the page was taken down. Weir's agent disingenuously attempted to explain away the reference to the work at the consulate as "a typo."

Even if Weir has no financial or political conflict of interest, he remains an unabashed Russophile. "I have always cheered for all Russian skaters, and I will cheer for all Russians when I am there in Sochi," he declared soon after signing on with NBC.

Linda Rapp

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    Bibliography
   

Azzopardi, Chris. "Figure Skater Talks about Memoir, Being 'Born This Way' and How the Closet Cost Him a Magazine Cover." Between the Lines (Livonia, Michigan) (March 3, 2011): http://www.pridesource/com/article/html?article=46180.

Beker, Jeanne. "On the Ice with Johnny Weir, Style Rebel." Globe and Mail (Toronto) (February 2010): L5.

Buzinski, Jim. "Peter Vidmar, Anti-gay Marriage Advocate, Chief of Mission for U.S. 2012 Olympic Team." Outsports.com (April 29, 2011): http://outsports.com/jocktalkblog/2011/04/29/peter-vidmar-anti-gay-marriage-advocate-chief-of-mission-for-u-s-2012-olympic-team/

Cabrera, Cloe. "Johnny Weir Brings Glamour to Pride Fest." Tampa Tribune (Florida) (June 24, 2010): Friday Extra, 12.

Johnny Weir Official Web Site: www.figureskatersonline.com/johnnyweir.

Hersh, Philip. "Vidmar Says His Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage Won't Affect His USOC Role." Chicago Tribune (May 5, 2011): http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/sports_globetrotting/2011/05/vidmar-mormons-same-sex-marriage-opposition-us-olympic-committee-johnny-weir.html

Kourlas, Gia. "In the World of Figure Skating, Winning Leaps over Art." New York Times (February 27, 2010): C1.

Ledger, Brent. "A Flamboyant Tale of Olympic Courage." Toronto Star (March 6, 2010): L11.

Perreaux, Les, and Beverly Smith. "Sportscasters Backtrack on Criticism of Flamboyant Skater Weir." Globe and Mail (Toronto) (February 20, 2010): A8.

Sheridan, Phil. "More Performer Than Competitor, Weir in Peace in 6th Place." Philadelphia Inquirer (February 20, 2010): E5.

Schwartz, Alison, and Stephen M. Silverman. "Johnny Weir Is Married!" People.com (January 3, 2012): http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20557918,00.html

Weir, Johnny. Welcome to My World. New York: Gallery Books, 2011.

"Weir on Being Excluded from Stars on Ice." The Advocate (March 12, 2010): http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/03/12/Johnny_Weir_on_Being_Excluded_From_Stars_on_Ice/

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Weir, Johnny  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated December 30, 2013  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/weir_johnny.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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