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Popular Topics in Literature
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Topics In the News
Johnny Weir's Fall from Grace
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 09/18/13
Last updated on: 09/18/13
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Johnny Weir.

Thanks to his ill-considered television appearances, shockingly dressed on at least one occasion in a Russian Army uniform, former Olympian Johnny Weir has revealed himself as an ignorant and selfish brat. The problem is not that he (like other openly gay and lesbian athletes) is opposed to a boycott of the Sochi Games, but that he has preened in such a way as to dismiss the suffering of glbtq Russians. By appearing in a Russian Army uniform, he signaled that he identified not with the oppressed but with the oppressors. The news that he failed to register on September 1, 2013 for a qualifying event for the U.S. Olympic team probably means that his skating career is over. It is sad that it ends on such a disappointing note.

It was always unlikely that Weir would qualify for the U.S. Olympic team. He finished sixth at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and has competed sparingly since then. Still, he indicated that he planned to attempt to make the 2014 team. In retrospect, however, those indications may simply have been either whistling in the dark or a means to keep the media interested in his opinions about the Sochi Olympics.

It is sad that Weir's career ends in self-inflicted disgrace.

Noted for the flamboyance of his skating and presentation, Weir was always a pleasure to watch on the ice. As Linda Rapp observes in her glbtq.com entry on him, "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."

After he finally came out to no one's surprise in his 2011 memoir, Welcome to My World, Weir became something of a gay rights activist. He became a supporter of the Trevor Project, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and the Human Rights Campaign.

In addition, he spoke out against the selection of Olympic gold medalist gymnast Peter Vidmar 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.

Indeed, Weir's history of personal flamboyance and political activism made his incoherent and unsophisticated antics concerning the Sochi Games particularly disappointing.

As John Aravosis wrote in Americablog.com, "Through the coverage of the growing international brouhaha over Russia's anti-gay 'propaganda' law and Russia's imminent hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the media has had a bit of a thing for asking former gay-Olympian Johnny Weir for his opinion on the entire mess. And Weir's answers have been just that, a bit of a mess."

Weir's self-absorption and selfishness were on display most egregiously in his September 6, 2013 appearance on Keith Olbermann's ESPN show.

Of that appearance, Aravosis wrote, "Then, just when you thought Johnny Weir couldn't be a greater idiot than he's already proven himself repeatedly to be, Weir actually has the audacity to claim that the situation gays face in Russia is the same one he faces in New Jersey, because New Jersey doesn't recognize his marriage."

Aravosis continues, "Johnny, the day anti-gay vigilantes kidnap you, beat you, torture you, force you to drink urine, and the American government ignores the crime because they just don't like the fact that you're gay, then we'll talk about the equivalence between Russia's horrific treatment of its gay and trans populace and the fact that Governor Christie can't decide whether he thinks you should be able to get married."

Quite apart from the inanity of his comments, Weir's appearance in a Russian military vividly announced his indifference to the suffering of glbtq Russians.

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